London

Woman charged with smuggling drugs in fruit presser

Cocaine Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The drugs were allegedly trafficked into London Gateway Port from Mexico on 17 March

A woman has been charged with importing drugs with a street value of £22m into the UK from Mexico inside an industrial fruit-processing machine.

Olivia Anton-Altamirano, 32, allegedly smuggled 250kg of cocaine and 9kg of crystal meth hidden inside a specially constructed machine, authorities said.

The Spanish national was arrested at her home in Blackheath, south-east London, the National Crime Agency said.

The drugs were allegedly trafficked into London Gateway Port on 17 March.

Image copyright DP World
Image caption The 3.5-tonne fruit processor was stopped by Border Force officers at London Gateway Port, Essex

The 3.5-tonne fruit processor was stopped by Border Force officers who discovered a haul estimated to have a £22m street value, the NCA said.

John Coles, the NCA's head of specialist operations, said: "Here we have a potentially lucrative plot by organised criminals to smuggle 259kg of Class A drugs into the UK, which would have eventually found itself being sold on the streets of London."

The announcement of the seizure came after security minister Ben Wallace warned the UK is "fast becoming the biggest consumer of cocaine in Europe".

Ms Anton-Altamirano, of Charlton Road, will appear at Kingston Crown Court to enter a plea on 7 June.

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