Heroin with a street value of £40 million has been seized after a ship docked in a UK port.
It’s one of the largest drug seizures following a major international undercover operation.
Crime intelligence teams had been monitoring the container vessel which was en route to Antwerp in Belgium.
Police officers boarded the ship as she docked in Felixstowe.
A container was taken off and hidden beneath a consignment of towels and bathrobes were nearly 400 kilograms of heroin.
The drugs were removed, and the container was put back on the ship.
The vessel was allowed to leave Felixstowe for Antwerp.
On arrival the container was unloaded and put on a lorry that made its way to Rotterdam.
All the time its journey from the UK to Belgium and onto Holland was monitored by police surveillance officers.
As two suspects started to unpack the container in Rotterdam the Dutch police moved in and made arrests.
And, in a co-ordinated operation, officers from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested a man in Bromsgrove in the West Midlands.
The heroin would be worth £9 million to crime gangs and, once processed, fetch a street value of £40 million in the UK and Europe.
NCA Regional Operations Manager, Colin Williams, said:
“The seizure of such a large quantity of heroin is the result of a targeted, intelligence-led investigation, carried out by the NCA with international and UK partners.
“It is almost certain that some of these drugs would have been sold in the UK, fuelling violence and exploitation including what we see in county lines offending nationwide.
“The heroin trade also feeds addictions that put users’ lives at risk, while giving rise to crime such as theft which make people feel unsafe in their communities.
“The NCA works in the UK and with partners around the world to target the crime groups posing the greatest threat to the UK.”
Mark Kennedy, Border Force Deputy Director, said:
“Border Force officers operate on the front line, working every day to keep dangerous Class A drugs like this off the UK’s streets.
“Substantial seizures like this help to keep communities safe and hit the organised crime groups involved in the international drugs trade hard.”