Raids on 'biggest smuggling gang' that brought drugs worth billions to Britain - 13 men arrested
Members of an international crime gang suspected of smuggling drugs worth billions of pounds into the UK have been arrested in dawn raids.
The National Crime Agency said 13 men aged between 24 and 59 were held on Tuesday in London, Manchester, Stockport, St Helens, Warrington, Bolton, Dewsbury, and Leeds.
They are accused of being part of the biggest drug smuggling gang that the NCA has ever uncovered.
Investigators intercepted 351 kilos of cocaine, 92 kilos of heroin, 250 kilos of cannabis and 1,850 kilos of hemp/hashish, with a total street value of more than £38 million, in three consignments in September 2018.
Subsequent inquiries led them to believe that 50 tonnes of drugs worth billions of pounds were imported on numerous occasions between February 2017 and October 2018.
The NCA said the drugs were hidden in lorries carrying vegetables and juice from the Netherlands.
Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: "We suspect these men were involved in an industrial-scale operation - the biggest ever uncovered in the UK - bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country.
"By working closely with partners here and overseas, in particular the Dutch National Police, we believe we have dismantled a well-established drug supply route."
As part of the same investigation four men and two women from the Netherlands were arrested in April this year and are awaiting extradition to the UK.
This investigation is linked to an earlier NCA operation where 13 people were jailed after the seizure of more than 100kg of heroin in 2015.
By Margaret Davis, PA Crime Correspondent