Drugs traffickers hide £1m worth of cocaine in boxes of PPE masks

Drugs traffickers attempted to smuggle £1m worth of cocaine into the UK in boxes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) face masks, the Home Secretary annouced.

Speaking in Saturday's government coronavirus briefing, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that last week Border Force found the illicit haul as it was set to be smuggled into the UK through the channel tunnel.

Ms Patel outlined efforts to tackle serious and organised crime during lockdown, and said criminals had been looking to exploit new opportunities brought about by the measures.

In one example, she said the National Crime Agency (NCA) helped to seize 700kg of heroin in Pakistan potentially bound for the United Kingdom.

wallasey printers liscard wallasey

Ms Patel said that overall crime has decreased during lockdown but warned criminals that law enforcement is "onto you".

Border Force officers found around 14kg of cocaine at the UK control zone in Coquelles after they stopped a Polish-registered van, which was attempting to enter the UK via the Channel Tunnel

She told the briefing that law enforcement agencies were "adapting" during the outbreak, as criminals continued to "capitalise on this horrendous crisis".

Ms Patel said: "I refuse to ignore the amplified risk for the victims of hidden crime, and I along with Lynne [Owens – director general of the National Crime Agency], along with our entire law enforcement agencies, refuse to allow criminals to take advantage of these unprecedented times."

The Home Secretary said there had been a fall in overall crime during the coronavirus outbreak, with "car crime, burglary, shoplifting" lower than the same period last year.

wirral airport transfers mersesysideairportservice.co.uk

But addressing criminals, she said: "Today I have a message for them. Our world-class law enforcement is also adapting, and they are on to you, and their efforts are paying off."

Ms Patel said police had been called to respond to some "extraordinarily dangerous driving" as car lovers take advantage of the quieter roads "as their own personal race track".

Ms Patel said: "We've seem speeds of up to 151mph clocked on the M1 and 134mph in 40mph zone in London.

"Police and fire (services) continue to put their arms around people and our communities by taking people shopping and taking prescriptions to the elderly.

"Driving ambulances and supporting those in need throughout this difficult time – I'm immensely grateful to each and everyone of our emergency service heroes."

The briefing heard that more than 2,000 scams relating to COVID-19 have been tackled in the last month, including a man arrested and charged for making "coronavirus treatment kits".

Ms Owens, also present at the briefing, warned the public of cyber crimes which have emerged in recent weeks.

She said: "We are protecting you from people preying on your fears and trying to take your money…

"We will take swift action against anyone unlawfully selling fake kits or PPE.

"For example, a man from West Sussex was recently arrested by City of London Police and charged after being caught making and selling Covid-19 treatment kits to people in the UK, the US and France.

"Online in the last month, the National Cyber Security Centre together with ourselves and the City of London Police, have taken down more than 2,000 scams relating to coronavirus."

Ms Owens warned that criminals will try to exploit the crisis through phishing sites and fake online shops.

Home Secretary Priti Patel at the daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday April 25

She urged people to protect themselves – by protecting children online, staying safe online by creating strong passwords and turning on backups.

She also urged people to look after their money and to not open suspicious emails or attachments.

Ms Owens outlined the work that has been done to stop the supply of drugs during the pandemic.

She said in the last month UK law enforcement officers have seized over 360 kilos of class A drugs, and the British Transport Police have made 70 arrests of people suspected of involvement in county lines drug dealing.

Read More

Top news stories

  • Everton statement on Moise Kean
  • Man 'badly' injured after bus collision
  • Gunman on run after shooting
  • Homes evacuated over fire

Yesterday, working with border force, they seized 36kg of cocaine.

Ms Patel said that police officers and staff are continuing to put themselves at risk to ensure that people follow the life-saving instruction to stay at home.

"Staying at home has changed the way we live our lives and I know how tough this has been."

She added: "We know that people are frustrated but we are not out of danger yet, it is imperative that people continue to follow the rules designed to protect their families, their friends and their loved ones.

"This will continue to save lives."

PUBLISH YOUR ARTICLE ON NEWSWIRRAL.CO.UK