More than £50m worth of cocaine has been discovered washed up on beaches in Hopton and Caister
- Credit: Archant
Cocaine with a value of more than £50m has been discovered washed up on two Norfolk beaches.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said 360 kilos of the suspected Class-A drug were found at Hopton and Caister.
A member of the public contacted police after discovering a number of holdalls on Hopton beach, near Great Yarmouth, yesterday afternoon.
Norfolk Police and border force officers attended the scene and initially secured the bags, which investigators suspected to contain cocaine.
A local fisherman said around a dozen border control and police officers were searching through the rocks on the beach near the Potters Resort in Hopton.
However, just six officers remain at the scene now.
It is understood that a woman contacted Hopton-on-Sea Parish Council yesterday afternoon to report fly-tipping on the beach area.
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A number of smaller packages were also discovered separately at a location near Caister this morning.
The total amount of suspected cocaine seized is estimated to be around 360 kilos, which if cut and sold on the streets could have had a potential value of upwards of £50m.
The seizure was referred to the NCA.
Matthew Rivers, from the NCA's border investigation team, said: '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 Police, added: '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.'
A spokesman for Norfolk police said the find was likely to be the largest in recent years.
The UK's biggest drugs find was in April 2015, when three tonnes of cocaine worth £512m were found on a boat seized in the North Sea.
After a tip by French authorities, Royal Navy and Border Force vessels boarded the Tanzanian flagged MV Hamal 100 miles off Aberdeen, which was then escorted into port.
The class A drugs were found hidden in a secret hatch on board and it took three days to find all that was hidden. The captain and first officer were found guilty of drug trafficking last year.
Locally, in 2012, three members of a gang behind the largest haul of heroin ever found in Norfolk were given a total of nearly 30 years behind bars.
The drugs, with an estimated street value of close to £2m, were discovered when police raided the Swanton Road travellers site in Norwich.
•Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.