Five men have been arrested in what is thought to be the largest drug seizure in the recorded history of British border force.
The bust happened at Farnborough Airport in England after the men were caught smuggling in over 1,100 pounds of cocaine from Columbia — estimated to be worth $71 million.
The drugs arrived at the airport via private jet on Monday, moments before U.K. Border Force officers approached the plane and its five passengers, according to Fox News.
After questioning those on board, the officers’ suspicions were raised and they wound up finding 15 designer suitcases full of the Class A drug.
“When opened, each case was found to contain between 34 to 37 tape-wrapped packages weighing approximately one kilo each,” said Mike Stepney, who is a Deputy Chief Operating Officer for U.K.’s Border Force.
Stepney added that one of the cases was pierced, exposing white powder which tested positive for cocaine.
“We estimate that once cut and sold on the streets in the UK it would have had a potential value in excess of £50 million,” Stepney said.
Among those who were arrested included British brothers Martin, 48, and Stephen Neil, 53, alongside two Spanish and an Italian national. The crew was questioned but later released.
The five will remain in custody until their appearance at Isleworth Crown Court on March 1.
The investigation was soon handled by the NCA, with the Hampshire Constabulary assisting in guarding the men while moving the drugs to a secure location.
“Working with law enforcement colleagues like the National Crime Agency we are determined to prevent drug trafficking and bring those responsible to justice,” Stepney said.
“This was a significant find made possible by the vigilance of dedicated Border Force officers,” he added, praising the coordinated effort of each team and its member.
“They have prevented a substantial quantity of drugs from ending up on our streets and causing untold misery and damage to our communities.”
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