£70m of cocaine found in taxi near Tilbury Docks
Cocaine worth an estimated £70 million has been found in the boot of a taxi near Tilbury Docks in Essex.
A "massive" 200kg of the drug in several high-purity blocks was seized by police after they found it stashed in holdalls in a minicab in the early hours of Tuesday.
The driver and seven others have been arrested by detectives investigating the importation of drugs in London and the Home Counties.
Detective Inspector Andy Whitewood, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We've seized a massive amount of cocaine which we believe would have made organised criminals in excess of £70 million had it reached the street-level sellers that it was intended for.
"The vast majority of these drugs would have been destined for the streets of London, where drug sales line the pockets of criminals and blight the communities in which they are sold.
"I can only estimate the substantial amount of acquisitive crime that would have been committed to fund the purchase of these drugs."
Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Special Intelligence Section, working with Essex Police personnel, intercepted two cars near Tilbury Docks at approximately 2am yesterday morning.
They stopped the white minicab on the A1089 and during a search discovered numerous blocks of high-purity cocaine, weighing 200kg, stashed in holdalls in the boot.
The driver, a 29-year-old man from Essex, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to supply controlled drugs. There were no passengers.
The second vehicle, a white Ford van, was stopped nearby. Its driver,a 45-year-old man of no fixed abode, and a 24-year-old man from Essex were both held on suspicion of conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to supply controlled drugs.
Three more suspects were identified and arrested in "undergrowth", police said. The men - aged 47, 31 and 40 and all from Essex - were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to import drugs and conspiracy to supply controlled drugs.
Later officers searched two homes in Essex and arrested a 30-year-old woman on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a Class A drug and an 18-year-old man on suspicion of concealing property and possession with intent to supply a Class A drug.
All eight are currently in custody at an east London police station.