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£100,000 of undeclared cash found in bed linen carried on tractor at port

PUBLISHED: 12:44 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:44 26 September 2018

The entrance to Harwich International Port  Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

The entrance to Harwich International Port Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Archant

Authorities have seized £100,000 of cash found hidden inside packs of bed linen at Harwich International Port.

The discovery was made by border officers at the port following the search of a tractor in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday, the National Crime Agency (NCA) applied to magistrates in Ipswich for the continued detention of the cash while investigations continue.

Suffolk Magistrates’ Court heard how officers in the outbound immigration channel selected a Lithuanian registered tractor, with a hard-sided trailer, for further investigation.

The driver, a 26-year-old Lithuanian, provided shipping paperwork for two badly damaged vehicles, picked up in the Midlands, and six pallets of household items, collected from Wales.

Electronic scanning of the vehicle and its contents showed an “anomaly” inside the pallets of pre-packed curtains and bed linen, which was then found to contain “lumps”.

Upon further investigation, the lumps were identified as heat-sealed packs of £10 and £20 notes.

The driver told officers he did not load the items onto the vehicle and claimed to have no knowledge of the money.

He was allowed to continue his journey with the remaining load, but without the money, which was sealed into 323 packs of £10 notes and 134 packs of £20 notes.

Magistrates heard that enquiries were at an early stage, but that a previous search of a vehicle operated by the same Lithuanian shipping company had uncovered two clandestine migrants.

Although it was not known if the migrants were opportunist stowaways, the NCA said it was an indicator of linked criminality along with the failure to declare the money seized on Tuesday.

“The complex concealment shows a level of premeditation, and the driver claimed no knowledge of it,” heard magistrates.

“On that basis, we believe it was derived from or intended for crime.”

Magistrates said they were satisfied there were reasonable grounds for suspecting the money was recoverable property obtained through or intended for unlawful conduct.

They granted the continued detention of the cash for six months, while investigations continue.

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