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Five suspects have been arrested in early morning raids in an operation linked to the recovery of 2.3 tonnes of cocaine worth £190m.

officers striking down suspect's doorThey were arrested this morning at addresses in Hartlepool, County Durham, as part of a National Crime Agency investigation.

Four men aged between 28 and 57 and one woman aged 53 are currently being held in custody on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and money laundering.

The arrests and search warrants – which resulted in the recovery of around £30,000 in cash from two addresses - are linked to the 2.3 tonnes seizure from the luxury yacht ‘Kahu’ two weeks ago.

Today’s strikes were supported by officers from Cleveland Police and the NERSOU (North East Regional Serious Organised Crime Unit) targeting alleged UK drugs couriers of an international organised crime group.

A sixth man aged 51 was also arrested today on suspicion of cannabis cultivation.

Gavin Heckles, NCA operations manager, said: “The National Crime Agency is working with domestic and international partners to investigate this organised crime group from top to bottom.

“Class A drugs wreck lives and can devastate communities – fighting their importation and distribution through the UK is a priority for us.”

Chief Inspector Rachel Stockdale, of Cleveland Police, said: “Drugs cause misery in our communities and we work with partners to target the organised criminals profiting from this trade.

“We’d encourage anyone concerned about drugs activity to speak to the police, your local information, however small, could be crucial to ongoing investigations.”

The huge drugs haul was made on 9 September when Border Force interdicted the Jamaican-flagged Kahu 80 miles off the Plymouth coast in an operation also involving the Australian Federal Police.

Six men, one Briton and five Nicaraguans, have been charged and remanded over drug trafficking offences.

22 September 2021