Customs officials at a UK port have intercepted cocaine worth an estimated £680,000 (€713,000) hidden among multipacks of Pepsi Max cola cans.
Officers from Britain’s Border Force discovered the drugs during a search of a Bulgarian freight lorry that arrived on a ferry at the Port of Dover after travelling from the Netherlands.
The 40-year-old driver of the lorry, who holds dual Bulgarian and Macedonian nationality, was arrested and bailed pending further investigation, police said.
“This is a significant seizure which has prevented a large quantity of dangerous substances reaching the UK’s streets,” said Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East & Europe.
“As this case shows, our officers are on constant alert to stop drugs, weapons and other banned goods entering the country.
“We work in partnership with the National Crime Agency (NCA) to disrupt traffickers and prevent illegal drugs causing harm to communities.”
In a separate seizure at Harwich International Port in Essex, Border Force officers discovered cocaine with a street value of £360,000 after searching a passenger who arrived on a ferry from the Hook of Holland.
The cocaine was concealed in multiple bars of soap and tubs of cream.
British national Kasende Sh’uleko was arrested at the scene and later appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court, where he was remanded in custody until his next appearance on 4 January.
Assistant Director for Border Force at Harwich, Charlotte Mann, commented: “Officers carried out a baggage search and discovered several tubs of cream and bars of soap.
“On closer inspection these items were found to contain packets of white powder which later tested positive as cocaine.
“By thwarting this smuggling attempt we have prevented a significant amount of harmful substances making it onto the UK’s streets and causing damage to communities.
“Border Force officers are at the forefront of the fight to keep illegal drugs out of the country.”
Both investigation were handed over to the NCA after arrests had been made.
Last month, the UK Home Office revealed that the amount of cocaine seized by British customs officials have reached the highest levels in more than 10 years.
More than 4.2 tonnes of the drug was confiscated in England and Wales in 2015-16, representing a 25% increase on the previous year, and the largest quantity since 2004.
Immigration minister Robert Goodwill said: “Border Force officers will continue to work tirelessly with domestic and international law enforcement colleagues to stop dangerous drugs at the border, preventing untold damage to our communities.”
In a report issued earlier this month, the EU’s European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) revealed that London had lost its crown as cocaine capital of Europe.
The body’s official study of drug concentrations in sewage in European cities found that residents of the Belgian city of Antwerp now outdo Londoners when it comes to cocaine consumption.