Holdalls containing cocaine with an estimated street value of €58.67 million have washed up on beaches in the British county of Norfolk, police have said.
Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK’s equivalent to the FBI, were called to investigate after a member of the public discovered the bags on Hopton Beach near Great Yarmouth.
More packages were later discovered in Caister-on-Sea, approximately 10 miles down the coast. In all, the entire haul weighed 360kgs.
The NCA has published a picture on is website showing a pile of brightly-coloured holdalls containing multiple packages of cocaine.
Speaking with the Sun, retired psychotherapist Valerie McGee, who found the drugs while walking her dog, said: “Rudey went up to have a sniff and did a little wee on the bags, so he must have thought they were interesting.
“They must have broken loose in the waves and been washed up on the beach.”
While it is unclear how the bags and packages ended up in the sea, it is possible traffickers may have dumped them through fear of being apprehended by customs officers, or threw them in the water for somebody to pick up later.
Matthew Rivers, from the NCA’s border investigation team, commented: “We are now working with Border Force, the Coastguard Agency and Norfolk Police to try and establish how the bags ended up where they did, however it is extremely unlikely that this was their intended destination.
“This is obviously a substantial seizure of class A drugs, and its loss will represent a major blow to the organised criminals involved.”
Superintendent Dave Buckley, from Norfolk Constabulary, said: “We are assisting the National Crime Agency with their searches and whilst we believe we have recovered all the packages, should any member of the public find one they are urged to contact Norfolk Constabulary immediately on 101.
“We will have extra officers in the area to monitor the situation.”
In October last year, police discovered a “torpedo” packed full of cocaine worth an estimated €5 million on a popular tourist beach in the Republic of Ireland.
The container, which held 75kgs of the drug, was found in County Clare, close to beaches popular with surfers. Police said the drugs were discovered thanks to assistance from the general public through the “Customs Drugs Watch Programme”, which encourages people living in coastal communities to report suspicious activity.
A beachcomber in Cornwall discovered cocaine worth an estimated €8.21 million in similar circumstances in 2008. Electrical engineer Frank Partridge found five packages of cocaine at Pentreath Beach on the Lizard Peninsula. Experts suggested they may have floated to the UK from the Caribbean.
In both cases, it was unclear exactly where the drugs had come from.