Monday, December 2, 2013
Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or €36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as "one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history", West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA ("ecstasy") in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.
The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. "When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered", the force said. "All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention." Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.
Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police's Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. "The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated", he said. "The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level."
Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as "conservative" suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.
Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to "hunt those responsible" continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders' roles in committing the crime.
== Sources ==
"Police sting secures up to £30m drugs haul" — West Midlands Police, December 2, 2013
"Huge £30m drug haul found" — ITV News Central, December 2, 2013
"Supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug" — Crown Prosecution Service, February 14, 2012