Three men have been arrested as National Crime Agency officers targeted an organised crime group manufacturing specialist hides for drugs in industrial machinery.
A series of raids were launched across south east England yesterday morning (Tuesday 19 July) as part of an operation linked to the interception of 125 kilos of cocaine destined for Sydney, Australia, on 11 July.
The drugs, which would have had a UK street value of approximately £20 million, were found in a specially constructed concealment built into a diesel generator.
The operation saw a 29-year-old arrested in Wickford, Essex, a 43-year-old arrested in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire and a 42-year-old arrested in Romford, Essex. All were held on suspicion of conspiracy to export a controlled drug and are being questioned by NCA officers.
Industrial premises in Rayleigh, Essex, South Ockenden and Feltham, west London, were also searched. Officers found a generator with a concealment at the South Ockenden address, cannabis plants and a number of stolen vehicles. High value jewellery was also found at one address.
Investigators suspect the crime group had specialised in making concealments within machinery, with a number of industrial generators specially adapted to create a space to hide illicit goods.
NCA Branch Commander Lydia Bloomfield said:
“Our investigation has targeted a network we suspect was providing a rare and highly sophisticated service to other organised crime groups.
“A shipment of this quantity of cocaine from the UK to Australia is unusual, but demonstrates the global scale of the class A drugs trade – which causes violence and intimidation throughout its supply chain.
“This operation has been planned and carried out alongside our partners including Border Force and New South Wales Police. We work closely with partners around the world to combat the highest risk organised crime threats.”
20 July 2022