Today's arrests are the culmination of a lot of planning and hard work. We have dismantled what was a sophisticated, well oiled, well established operation involving a network of criminals from the cargo handlers to the couriers to the distributors all the way up to the top of the pile.
Police say large quantities of near pure cocaine were recovered with a street value totalling many millions of pounds.
- The drugs would come in to London Heathrow in cargo containers on flights from Mexico City
- Once the aircraft arrived into the terminal, cargo handlers would quickly remove the drugs, which were boxed inside the cargo container, before it was moved on
- Couriers would then liaise with the cargo handlers and collect the drugs and pass them onto the criminals responsible for distributing the drugs to local dealers
Met Police Officers have carried out a series of co-ordinated raids on homes in London and the South East as part of an operation to smash an international drugs smuggling ring.
Police say today's operation dismantled a well-established, organised criminal network responsible for importing and distributing millions of pounds worth of cocaine.
More than £60,000 has been recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act following a money laundering investigation by Lewisham Police's Criminal Finance Team into drug trafficking activities in London linked to a South East Asian organised crime gang.
Barry Wong, 47, of Lewisham was jailed for two years in June for money laundering and a forfeiture order was granted today at Bromley Magistrates Court as there were reasonable grounds to believe that the seized cash was derived from crime and therefore recoverable.
Ian Smith, Lewisham Police Criminal Finance Team said:
Barry Wong disowned the seized cash from the outset and there were no other claimants for the cash during the investigation.
This can only be because it was 'dirty money' from criminal activity and could not be attributed to any legitimate source.
The Metropolitan Police Criminal Finance Teams are committed to bankrupting any criminal organization, however big or small they are, and particularly those that are of the opinion it is safe to deal in cash obtained through crime.
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The London Review of Books has attempted to clarify comments made by Hilary Mantel about the Duchess of Cambridge, saying the author was actually criticising the media.
The Duchess of Cambridge, as Patron of Action on Addiction, is visiting the charity's Hope House treatment centre in Clapham, south London.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been defended by a charity chief executive after a scathing attack by novelist Hilary Mantel.
Nick Barton, who heads Action on Addiction, which Kate supports as patron, described her as an "intelligent" woman genuinely interested in the work of his organisation.
During a lecture, Mantel, the double Booker Prize winner, said Kate appeared to have been "gloss-varnished" with a perfect plastic smile, in contrast to Princess Diana, who she described as awkward and emotionally incontinent.
Kate is currently touring the addiction charity's Hope House treatment centre in Clapham, south London.
Asked for his reaction to Mantel's criticisms, Mr Barton said: "I don't think it's for me to comment on that kind of stuff. I speak of what I know - somebody who wants to help, is helpful and genuinely interested and is intelligent.
"I can only speak (of) what I know. I've met her several times and I found her to be engaging, I found her very natural, I found her actually genuinely interested in the subject."
Hope House offers a safe, secure and comfortable place for women to recover from substance dependence and receive additional support for other compulsive disorders.
It is the first time Kate has been seen in public after photographs of her on holiday in Mustique were published by foreign media.
The Duchess of Cambridge will visit an addiction charity today to meet women recovering from alcohol and drug dependency. Kate will travel to Hope House treatment centre, in Clapham in her role as patron of Action on Addiction.
Each year a different charity, all with royal patrons, will receive fundraising support from 100 Women In Hedge Funds starting with Action on Addiction in 2013, then Harry's charity WellChild in 2014 and finally Kate's organisation the Art Room in 2015.
Kate's visit to the charity's treatment centre will be her first official appearance since pictures showing her on holiday in a bikini and with a very slight baby bump were published in a number of foreign magazines.