Huge Cocaine Seizure At Gatwick

Border Force officers at Gatwick Airport have made what is thought to be one of their biggest ever seizures of liquid cocaine.

Staff carrying out checks on a consignment of freight from Jamaica made the discovery on Monday 14 January.

The consignment was labelled as foodstuffs and the cocaine was hidden in tins marked as containing carrot juice.

The drugs weighed approximately 80 kilos and it is estimated they could have had a potential value of approximately £8million when cut and sold on the street.

The seizure was referred to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) for investigation.

The consignment was delivered to a number of addresses across London, eventually being deposited at premises in Beckenham on 16 January. Five people were subsequently arrested.

A number of premises were searched and evidence of previous consignments were recovered, together with significant quantities of cash.

William Hayles (DoB 14/08/62) and Randall St Patrick Lewis (DoB 20/12/60) were charged on 17 January with conspiracy to import controlled drugs, and were remanded in custody until 26 April 2013, when they will appear at the Old Bailey, London.

Three people were bailed pending further enquiries.

Border Force South Director, Carole Upshall, said:

"This was a major seizure and it demonstrates how Border Force officers are on constant alert to keep illegal drugs and other banned substances out of the UK.

"Working closely with our law enforcement colleagues at SOCA we have managed to thwart this smuggling attempt and stop a sizeable amount of cocaine making it onto the streets of Britain.

"Drug trafficking is a serious offence and those convicted face long prison sentences."

The seizure is the latest in a series of class A drug interceptions involving Border Force officers at Gatwick Airport.

In February 2012 four Spanish nationals were arrested as they attempted to import around 86 kilos of cocaine in luggage off a flight from the Dominican Republic in what was thought to be the airport's biggest ever cocaine seizure. They were later sentenced to a total of 42 years in prison following a joint investigation with SOCA.

Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to drug smuggling should call our hotline on 0800 59 5000.