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UK's biggest ever cocaine seizure

PUBLISHED: 10:44 17 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

SIX people were being questioned today after the country's biggest ever cocaine haul in Essex.

Four Britons, a Nigerian and a Serb were arrested in connection with the seizure of a record £32 million stash of the drugs thrown from the back of a cargo plane as it landed at Southend Airport last night.

SIX people were being questioned today after the country's biggest ever cocaine haul in Essex.

Four Britons, a Nigerian and a Serb were arrested in connection with the seizure of a record £32 million stash of the drugs thrown from the back of a cargo plane as it landed at Southend Airport last night.

The cocaine, which was packed into six large suitcases weighing more than 80 kilos each, was immediately seized by Customs and Excise officers, who were believed to have been tipped off about the haul.

A Customs spokesman said the Boeing 707 plane landed at Southend Airport at 9pm after a 48-hour journey from Jamaica via Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

"The plane landed at about 9pm last night. It taxied to the end of the runway where it stopped, the cargo doors were opened and six huge suitcases were thrown out," he said.

"The plane then taxied into the terminal building. It appears the plan was that the cocaine would be picked up later on. This was the largest ever seizure of cocaine in the UK."

Five air crew and one airport worker were arrested for questioning, he added.

The plane, which has been impounded, carried no other cargo.

The suitcases which the drugs were stashed in were so large they needed three officers to lift each one.

Those arrested, all believed to be men, were taken to London where they were due to be interviewed today. A Customs spokesman declined to reveal their ages.

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