Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Five held in £50m cocaine seizure at Farnborough Airport

Private jet which drugs were seized from at Farnborough Airport Image copyright Border Force
Image caption The private jet arrived on Monday from Colombia, a country notorious for cocaine production

Cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £50m has been seized from a private jet in Hampshire.

Border Force officers found half a tonne (500kg) of the drug in suitcases after a flight from Bogota, Colombia, to Farnborough Airport on Monday.

Five men - two British, two Spanish and an Italian - were arrested on suspicion of importing Class A drugs.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the seizure was one of the largest flown into the UK "for many years".

Image copyright Border Force
Image caption The cocaine was in wrapped packages weighing 1kg each

Mike Stepney, of Border Force, said officers searched the plane and discovered the drugs in 15 items of luggage after questioning those on board.

"When opened, each case was found to contain between 34 to 37 tape-wrapped packages weighing approximately one kilo each," he said.

"One of these was pierced and a white powder exposed which tested positive for cocaine."

This led to NCA officers seizing items including computers and phones from three addresses in Bournemouth.

NCA operations manager Siobhan Micklethwaite said: "This is a major seizure of cocaine, one of the largest flown into the UK by plane in many years, and this seizure by Border Force represents a major blow to organised crime.

"We estimate that once cut and sold on the streets in the UK it would have had a potential value in excess of £50m."

A full forensic analysis of the find is taking place.

The crew of the plane were also questioned but were released without charge.

Image copyright Border Force
Image caption The 500kg of cocaine was divided between 15 suitcases

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