Breaking Kent Sittingbourne

In the early hours of yesterday morning (20 December) a cordon was put around the port and more than 100 officers – including the NCA’s Armed Operations Unit and specialist firearms teams from Kent Police

1.2 tonnes of cocaine has been seized and seven men arrested and charged following a major National Crime Agency-led operation targeting a suspected organised crime group alleged to have used an insider at Sheerness port in Kent.

In the early hours of yesterday morning (20 December) a cordon was put around the port and more than 100 officers – including the NCA’s Armed Operations Unit and specialist firearms teams from Kent Police – moved in to carry out the strike.

The operation follows an NCA investigation into a group suspected of plotting with a port worker to smuggle significant amounts of class A into the UK drugs market through Sheerness.

The investigation has been supported by Border Force and carried out with the co-operation of the port operator.

NCA investigators believe the drugs had arrived on a boat from Costa Rica and were hidden inside a shipment of bananas. The haul has an estimated street value of more than £90 million.

NCA Regional Head of Investigation Jacque Beer said: “Our investigation has focused on what we believe to be a dangerous group intent on importing large amounts of drugs to the UK, using insider contacts within the port.

“We know that criminal gangs target insiders within ports and airport for their knowledge and access. While it is rare, when it happens it represents a disproportionately large threat, which is why it is such a focus for the NCA.

“We believe this activity has thwarted those intentions and led to the dismantling of the network involved.

“This was a major operation involving a large number of law enforcement officers from the NCA, our Kent Police colleagues and Border Force, who I’d like to thank for their assistance, as well as the port operator.

“Working together we are determined to do all we can to protect the security and integrity of the UK border.”