Police and border agents have carried out the biggest-ever drug bust at a UK port.

The National Crime Agency said officers had seized 5.7 tonnes of cocaine hidden in a container of bananas at Southampton.

The box had been shipped from South America.

The find was made on 8 February but can only now be reported.

The NCA told TradeWinds it was not yet able to reveal the name of the ship involved.

The drugs are said to be worth more than £450m ($570m).

Specialist Border Force officers were called in to search by the NCA, which had identified the shipment through its Near Europe Task Force.

Photos showed brown packages of the drug beside bunches of bananas.

The NCA believes the shipment was due to head to the port of Hamburg in Germany.

“Enquiries are ongoing with international partners across Europe with a view to identifying the criminal networks involved,” the agency added.

The previous largest UK seizure saw 3.7 tonnes of cocaine found at Southampton in 2022.

US raid holds the record

The biggest-ever cocaine haul from a vessel is believed to be that involving the the 9,962-teu MSC Gayane (built 2018) in Philadelphia in 2019.

US officials recovered nearly 20 tonnes of the drug worth $1.3bn.

The cocaine market is dominated by criminal gangs which the NCA believe are making around £4bn a year in the UK alone.

NCA director Chris Farrimond said: “This record-breaking seizure will represent a huge hit to the international organised crime cartels involved, denying them massive profits. The work of the NCA was crucial to making it happen.

“While the destination for the consignment was continental Europe in this case, I have no doubt that a significant proportion would have ended up back here in the UK, being peddled by UK criminal gangs,” he added.

The Near Europe Task Force is a team funded through the Home Office to focus on the international supply of drugs.