Mounds of Cocaine Worth More Than $113 Million Washed Up on British Beaches

Several packages of South American cocaine weighing nearly 2 tons and valued at over $113 million USD has been discovered in the United Kingdom after the drug parcels were found washed ashore on the East Sussex coast.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed in a news release that it has opened an investigation into the recovered drug packages. The mounds of cocaine were reportedly found on two separate beaches on Monday—one in Newhaven and another in Hastings.

The NCA report noted that concerned citizens initially called in the Sussex Police Department, "who removed the drugs from both beaches and took them to a secure location."

According to a report from The Argus, the drugs were found washed ashore "wrapped in waterproof bags and attached to life jackets to make them float" in the water.

"Shortly before 6 a.m., police received a report of a large number of packages in the sea off the coast of St. Leonards," a Sussex Police spokesperson said in a statement to the outlet.

"In liaison with the Coastguard and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the packages were recovered and will be tested to determine what they are," the spokesperson added. "Further packages were reported later in the day along the coast at Newhaven. Police are seeking to determine whether the two finds are linked."

The NCA and Sussex law enforcement subsequently performed a preliminary drug test and confirmed high traces of cocaine in the packages seized. The NCA noted that "a full forensic examination will [also] be carried out."

Two separate consignments of packages were located on beaches near Hastings and Newhaven yesterday. Passers-by made the discovery and alerted @sussex_police, who removed the drugs from both beaches and took them to a secure location.

— National Crime Agency (NCA) (@NCA_UK) May 25, 2021

In a series of tweets, the NCA reported that the weight of the packages seized from both beaches came out to 960 kilograms—roughly over 2,116 pounds. The cocaine is believed to have a street sale value of £80 million, which converts to about $113,195,760 USD.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne reflected on the nation's drug problem in a statement to Newsweek.

"Whilst government and scientists across the world are ramping up vaccine production to keep us safe from [COVID-19], drug cartels continue to make millions from their very own misery chain of drugs manufacturing and supply," she said.

"We also need to change the behavior of so-called recreational dinner party drug users who also create the demand that drug dealers are very happy to meet. Before that joint or wrap arrives in your hand, it has left a trail of violence and exploitation behind it."

In the NCA's press release, Branch Commander Martin Grace stated that based on initial findings, it is likely that the drugs came into the United Kingdom from international waters.

"This is a significant amount of class A drugs which we think originated in South America, but we are keeping an open mind about how the drugs washed up here and where the end destination might have been," Grace said. "Clearly though losing a consignment of this size this will represent a significant hit to the criminal networks involved."

He also confirmed that both the Sussex Police and Border Force have teamed up with the NCA in the drug investigation, and the drugs are being held in an undisclosed location.

Bourne said, "This huge cache of drugs that drifted onto our beaches may only represent a fraction of the drugs in circulation globally, but it is a massive blow to whichever drugs gang were attempting to get it onto our streets."

Newsweek also reached out to the NCA for further comment, but it declined to do so at this time.

This is the latest in a series of cocaine drug busts across the globe. Last week in Alabama, 31 kilos—approximately 68 pounds—of cocaine was found washed ashore. In Florida, a snorkeler found a floating parcel of cocaine that has since been valued at $1.5 million.

This story was updated at 9 a.m. on May 26 to include the Sussex Police's statement to Newsweek.

Cocaine worth over $113 million washed ashore
Several packages of South American cocaine worth more than $113 million USD was found on the British shoreline on Monday. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images