Heroin with a street value of more than £120m has been discovered hidden among towels and dressing gowns on board a container ship – making it the largest ever seizure of the class A drug in the UK.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the haul, weighing nearly 1.3 tonnes, was recovered from the MV Gibraltar after the vessel docked at Felixstowe on 30 August.
It took officers almost six hours to remove the drugs from a container, which the NCA said had a wholesale value of £27m to organised criminals.
The drugs were stored in packets labelled as protein powder, which were inside boxes filled with towels and dressing gowns.
The NCA said intelligence had ascertained the drugs would be on the MV Gibraltar as it docked in the UK en route to Antwerp.
It was searched by Border Force and NCA officers as it arrived at Felixstowe.
After the drugs were removed, officers returned the container to the ship, which continued to Antwerp and docked in the Belgian port city on 1 September.
It was kept under surveillance by Dutch and Belgian officials as it was driven by lorry to a warehouse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
On arrival, officers swooped in and arrested four people as they unloaded the container.
The latest seizure comes after officers discovered 398kg of heroin on a vessel at Felixstowe on 2 August.
NCA deputy director Matt Horne, said: “This is a record heroin seizure in the UK and one of the largest ever in Europe.
“The size of this and other recent shipments demonstrate the scale of the threat we face.
“We can be certain that some of these drugs would eventually have been sold in the UK, fuelling high levels of violence and exploitation including what we see in county lines offending nationwide.”
Heroin with a street value of more than £120m has been discovered hidden among towels and dressing gowns on board a container ship – making it the largest ever seizure of the Class A drug in the UK.