£50m cocaine haul seized in Suffolk

FOUR men have appeared in court in Scotland after half a tonne of cocaine with a street value of £50 million was seized in Felixstowe it was revealed today.

CUSTOMS officers have made one of the biggest-ever seizures of cocaine at Felixstowe after smashing an international smuggling operation.

It was revealed today that half a tonne of the class A drug had been found in a container unloaded at the Suffolk box port.

The drugs – with a street value of £50 million – were en route for Scotland and are believed to have been the largest haul ever destined for the country.

Four Scots have been arrested and charged in connection with the haul, and have appeared in court in Airdrie.

Customs officers in Felixstowe mounted a major joint operation with the

Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, and some of its officers travelled to Suffolk to mount a joint operation.

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After the discovery during a search at Felixstowe – believed to have been made thanks to intelligence tracking the consignment – drugs officers replaced it with a "dummy load".

The cargo was then allowed to travel on to Scotland, followed closely by the team of officers, who arrested the four men from Ayrshire during an undercover operation in Lanarkshire on Tuesday night.

The men appeared at Airdrie Sheriff Court yesterday , charged with being knowingly concerned in the importation of the Class A drugs.

They are: David Frew, 55, of Kilwinning, William McAdam, 41, of Kilwinning, James Mair, 37, of Cumnock, and Sean McAdam, 35, of Kilwinning. They made no plea or declaration.

They were remanded in custody for seven days.

Customs officers in Suffolk today declined to confirm any more details about the seizure, other than what they had already released to the media.

A spokesman was adamant he could not divulge any more details while the court case was ongoing.

However, it is believed that this was a major long-running operation.

At this stage, there has been no official confirmation as to where the drugs came from, or when they came in to Felixstowe, but it is believed there is a South American drugs cartel connection.

The area has very strong links to cocaine hauls imported throughout Europe.

Customs Minister John Healey, economic secretary to the treasury, said: "The removal of £50 million-worth of cocaine from the criminal supply chain demonstrates how Customs and Excise, working together with the SDEA and other agencies across the UK, are making a real impact on the Class A drugs problem.

"We want to make sure that dangerous drugs do not reach our streets."

The operation was also praised by Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell, who said the size of the seizure showed how far drug traffickers were prepared to go to "spread misery".

"The size of the delivery shows how far drug traffickers will go to spread misery in our communities," he said.

"It reinforces our determination to toughen our enforcement, use new laws to go after the funds dealers use to traffic drugs and do more to reduce the market for drugs in Scotland.

"The seizure shows that we also need to cut the demand for drugs. Cocaine and crack cocaine are a growing problem."

The biggest ever seizure of cocaine at Felixstowe was £155 million-worth in January 1992 when 935 kilogrammes of South Amercian drugs were found in a shipment of lead ingots on the vessel Adviser.