Police seized 5.6 tons (5.1 metric tons) of cannabis Thursday at a port on England's East Coast and arrested nine people during a crackdown on gangs that supply drugs in London.
In a joint operation that had been planned for several months, Metropolitan Police and Revenue and Customs officers recovered the cannabis worth about 12 million pounds (US$21.3 million, Ђ17.5 million) hidden in a cargo of furniture and artifacts shipped from Mexico, police said. The port was not identified.
Six men, aged 26 to 52, and two women, aged 31 and 42, were arrested Thursday morning at separate London locations in connection with the cannabis seizure.
Another man, age 43, was detained in the suburban county of Essex, the AP reports.
The seized cannabis was "undoubtedly" destined for London, said Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, head of the Metropolitan Police Service Specialist Crime Directorate.
According to the most recent available records from the Home Office (Interior Ministry), 99 tons of cannabis and 80,000 cannabis plants were seized in 2003 in the United Kingdom.
Cannabis is thought to be the most commonly used drug in the United Kingdom, according to a British Crime Survey from the Home Office, with more than 3 million users in England and Wales. AM