Almost a tonne of what is thought to be cocaine floated to shore in waterproof bags attached to life jackets at two locations 30 miles apart. Passers-by discovered the loot at Hastings and Newhaven, East Sussex, yesterday. Sussex Police removed the drugs from the beaches and they are not being stored in a secure location.
The National Crime Agency has opened an investigation into the discoveries, which officers believe are linked.
Samples taken from the load have tested positive for cocaine, though a full forensic examination is yet to be carried out.
The combined weight is thought to be around 960 kilos, which if cut and sold on the streets in the UK, would have had an estimated street value of about £80 million.
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Martin Grace, NCA Branch Commander, said: “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.
“Clearly though, losing a consignment of this size will represent a significant hit to the criminal networks involved.
“Our investigation is being assisted by both Sussex Police and Border Force, and is also likely to involve international partners.”