Liverpool

Six Liverpool men held over 'charcoal' cocaine plot

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Media captionPolice suspect smugglers used a charcoal company in Spain as a front to import the cocaine in a shipping container

Six men from Liverpool have been arrested in connection with the seizure of millions of pounds of cocaine in a shipment disguised as slabs of wood and sacks of charcoal.

Spanish police made the discovery in a shipment from Colombia to Valencia.

Four of the suspects were arrested in Merseyside, while two were held in a raid at a luxury apartment in Dubai.

A further five men, from Spain and South America, were held in Valencia, the National Crime Agency said.

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption The cocaine was discovered after forensic analysis of a shipment of charcoal and wood

Police suspect smugglers used a charcoal company in Spain as a front to import the cocaine in a shipping container.

The container appeared to be loaded with sacks of charcoal on wooden pallets, but the pallets were found to be made of compressed cocaine powder made to look like wood, while some of the sacks contained cocaine disguised as charcoal.

Spain is seen as the main entry point in Europe for drug smugglers from South America.

Image copyright NCA
Image caption What appeared to be slabs of wood was compressed cocaine powder

The Liverpool men were arrested in a series of coordinated raids carried out by the National Crime Agency, Merseyside Police and the Dubai Police Anti-Narcotic Unit.

A 44-year-old was arrested at Liverpool Airport, along with a 54-year-old and a 50-year-old in the rooftop car park of the Belle Vale Shopping Centre.

A 46-year-old was detained at an address in Knowsley Village, while a 39-year-old and a 38-year-old were held in Dubai.

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