Significant cocaine haul recovered in Swanage Bay

A large quantity of cocaine was recovered by police and brought ashore in Swanage on Friday 6th October 2023 – one of three similar finds off Purbeck shores in a week.

A multi agency response to the holdalls containing hundreds of kilos of powder, involved a Dorset police helicopter and rib boat as well as coastguard teams and a police car.


Watertight packages in holdalls were recovered in Swanage

Brought ashore near the Swanage Lifeboat Station

The large packages were brought ashore alongside RNLI Swanage Lifeboat Station.

It follows the discovery of the powder, believed to be high quality South American cocaine, in the sea off St Aldhelm’s Head and at Durdle Door in Purbeck.

The initial find was made on Monday 2nd October 2023 by a fisherman who alerted Dorset Police, and since then a further quantity has also washed up onto a beach on the Isle of Wight. The discovery on the Isle of Wight beach on Saturday 7th October 2023 was made by a team of litter pickers.

Packages are currently being examined to confirm their contents and quantity in an investigation led by the National Crime Agency and supported by Dorset Police, Hampshire Police and the Border Force.

Some of the packages recoveered from the sea off Dorset

Some of the packages recovered from the sea off St Aldhelm’s Head near Worth Matravers in Purbeck

“Significant hit to the criminal networks”

NCA senior investigating officer Tracey Lake said:

“We believe this is a significant amount of class A drugs which would have originated in South America. A loss of a consignment of this size would represent a significant hit to the criminal networks involved.

“Our investigation is being assisted by both Dorset and Hampshire Police as well as Border Force. Any additional suspect packages encountered by members of the public should be reported to the relevant police force.”

Package of drugs found on Isle of Wight
Package of drugs found on Isle of Wight

The packages found on an Isle of Wight beach by litterpickers

“Searches remain ongoing”

Deputy chief constable Rachel Farrell, of Dorset Police, said:

“Officers from our marine team, supported by colleagues from across the Force and HM Coastguard have been working tirelessly with the NCA and Border Force to recover these suspect packages.

“Searches remain ongoing and I would ask anyone who finds a holdall or similar package in suspect circumstances to please not touch the item, but contact Dorset Police immediately.

“We remain committed to joining forces with our partner agencies to relentlessly pursue criminals and organised gangs suspected of being involved in drug supply offences so that we can keep the public safe.”

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