Over 220,000 seizures of illicit drugs seized


Police and border forces have helped break supply chains, keeping our borders and communities safe by seizing millions of illicit drugs.

During the period, seizures of class A drugs increased by 17% and despite a 6% drop in cocaine seizures, the overall amount of cocaine seized increased by 161% to 11,148 kg. In total, there were 17,641 cocaine seizures in 2020 to 2021.

For the third year in a row, the number of drug seizures made by Border Force for all drug types increased – up 79% from 2019 to 2020 – thanks to intelligence-led approaches to eliminate drugs and proceeds drugs when crossing the UK border.

The vast majority (89%) of all drug seizures were made by police forces, with the remaining 11% being made by Border Force. Although police forces were responsible for more seizures, border forces seized a much larger quantity of drugs.

During the period, border forces and police seized the following quantities:

  • for class A seizures, 11,148 kg of cocaine, 1,973 kg of heroin and 1.4 million doses of ecstasy
  • for class B seizures, 17,213 kg of herbal cannabis, 1,990 kg of cannabis resin and 187 kg of ketamine
  • for class C seizures, 1.64 million doses of anabolic steroids, 55 kg of GHB and 415,000 doses of temazepam

Working in partnership, local police forces, border forces, the National Crime Agency and international partners use intelligence and technology to secure our borders, prevent drug trafficking and bring those responsible to justice.

Expert staff use a range of methods including high-tech search equipment and visual checks to detect illegal and regulated goods that criminals attempt to smuggle into the country.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

British law enforcement is going after the criminals who are ravaging so many communities and destroying lives through drugs.

I continue to support police and border forces to use all available law enforcement powers to stop drugs from entering our country and to prosecute the kingpins who are destroying communities.

Police and Crime Minister Kit Malthouse said:

These foreclosures mean that some nasty bad guys suffer huge losses and probably can’t pay their debts. Good.

Drug gangs are ruining lives and dismantling their conspiracies for good means destroying their businesses and destroying their profits. Kudos to the border forces and police for tackling this issue head-on.

Border Force Operations Director Steve Dann said:

Drug supply chains are violent and exploitative, impacting communities across the UK.

These seizures send a clear message to anyone willing to smuggle illegal drugs into the country: we remain committed and ready to tackle drug supply chains.

The Border Force agents involved in these seizures can be proud of their work to prevent these dangerous drugs from entering our communities.

Since the period covered by these statistics, border forces have continued to make significant seizures.

On January 6, 2022, Border Force officers working at a container port in Southampton seized 103kg of cocaine which had been concealed in a 20-pallet container of bananas. Upon inspection, Border Force officers discovered 4 holdalls, each containing approximately 25 wrapped packets which tested positive for the presence of cocaine.

The container had recently arrived from Colombia aboard the merchant ship Maersk Bali. The container was selected for examination by officers who identified an anomaly while scanning it. Border Force estimates the street value of the cocaine to be £7.5million

Securing the border to crack down on the supply chains and criminal gangs that profit from the illegal drug trade is a key part of the government’s 10-year drug strategy to tackle the harm caused by drug abuse.

The strategy will see £300million invested in prosecuting and shutting down ruthless gangs who exploit and threaten the most vulnerable members of society for financial gain through the illegal drug trade and £780million invested in treatment and recovery.


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