Cocaine worth £50m found on Hopton and Caister beaches in Norfolk

Holdalls found washed up on Hopton beach near Great Yarmouth, containing around 360 kilos of cocaine

Holdalls found washed up on Hopton beach near Great Yarmouth, containing around 360 kilos of cocaine. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Cocaine worth a potential £50 million has been discovered washed up on two beaches in Norfolk.

Holdalls found washed up on Hopton beach near Great Yarmouth, containing around 360 kilos of cocaine

Holdalls found washed up on Hopton beach near Great Yarmouth, containing around 360 kilos of cocaine. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

A total of around 794lb (360kg) of the suspected Class A drug was found at Hopton-on-Sea yesterday and at Caister-on-Sea today, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said. Both locations are near Great Yarmouth.

The NCA said a number of holdalls were found at Hopton-on-Sea and a “small number of packages” were discovered at Caister-on-Sea.

The incident unfolded when a member of the public called Norfolk Police yesterday afternoon after discovering a number of holdalls on Hopton Beach. Police and Border Force officers attended the scene and secured the holdalls, which investigators suspect to contain cocaine.

The seizure was referred to the National Crime Agency.

This morning, another “small” number of packages were found separately at Caister beach.

The total amount of the suspected cocaine seized is estimated to be around 360 kilos. If the suspected cocaine was cut and sold on the streets, it could have had a potential value of at least £50 million, the NCA said.

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Matthew Rivers, from the NCA’s border investigation team, said: “We are now working with Border Force, the Coastguard Agency and Norfolk Police to try and establish how the bags ended up where they did; however, it is extremely unlikely that this was their intended destination.

“This is obviously a substantial seizure of class A drugs, and its loss will represent a major blow to the organised criminals involved.”

Marine archaeologist Stuart Bacon said unless the cocaine was dumped overboard very close to the shore, it would take a detailed analysis of the tides and winds to determine where exactly it had gone overboard.

Mr Bacon, director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies Unit, said: “If I was part of the investigation, I would be wondering if a boat had sunk.

“If you had drugs worth £50m you would risk your neck to keep that safe.

“If the bags were buoyant they would have floated to the surface and then been swept ashore by the tides and winds.”

He felt that if the holdalls had been purposely dumped overboard in the shallows – perhaps up to 100 yards out – they would have come straight ashore.

Any further out, and the boat carrying them could have been off Suffolk or Norfolk.

Mr Bacon said: “We have had easterly winds this week so the boat could have been quite a way off shore and easily off Suffolk – the winds would have swept the bags onto the coast. If it had been northerly or westerly, they could easily have ended up on the Dutch shore.”

A local fisherman said around a dozen border control and police officers were searching through the rocks on the beach near the Potters Resort in Hopton.

But around half-a-dozen police officers were still at the scene this afternoon.

Superintendent Dave Buckley, from Norfolk Police, said: “We are assisting the National Crime Agency with their searches and whilst we believe we have recovered all the packages, should any member of the public find one they are urged to contact Norfolk Constabulary immediately on 101.

“We will have extra officers in the area to monitor the situation.”

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.