An international investigation has resulted in the largest ever seizure of heroin in the UK, denying vast sums of money to organised crime groups.
Nearly 1.3 tonnes of the class A drug were recovered from the containership Maersk Gibraltar after it docked at the port of Felixstowe.
National Crime Agency (NCA) intelligence had ascertained that the heroin would be on the vessel when it docked in the UK en route to Antwerp.
The record haul would be worth around £27 million (US$33.28 million) to organised criminals at wholesale, and in excess of £120 million (US$147.93 million) at street level, where it is typically supplied via county lines dealing.
The ship arrived at Felixstowe on August 30 and was searched by officers from the UK Border Force and the NCA. They found a total of 1,297 kilograms of the substance concealed among a cover load of towels and bathrobes.
After officers removed the drugs, they returned the container to the vessel, which continued on to Antwerp and docked in the Belgian port city on September 1.
Under surveillance by Dutch and Belgian law enforcement agencies, the container was driven by lorry to a warehouse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Upon arrival, officers moved in and arrested four people who were in the process of unloading the consignment.
The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!