SEVEN men have been held after a €4.6 million cannabis haul was unearthed in a container shipped to the UK from Spain.
Border Force officers discovered the 400kg stash in the wake of a joint probe with the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The drugs were hidden in crates of lettuces aboard the Wec Vermeer vessel, which had docked at the Port of Liverpool five days ahead of the raid.
A covert surveillance operation was launched, with investigators tracking the container after it was loaded onto an articulated lorry and driven to an industrial unit in Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire.
Officers swooped to arrest the driver and two others who were unloading the vehicle, before three suspects were held in nearby Kirkham and a fourth individual was detained in the Trafford Park area of Greater Manchester.
Greg McKenna, Head of NCA Investigations for the north of England, said in a statement: “This is a significant disruption of an organised crime network that has stopped the proceeds of crime funding further criminality that would damage communities and exploit the vulnerable.
“We take importations such as this very seriously, and these arrests show that we will detect criminal activity and arrest those responsible.”
All seven suspects have been released on bail after being quizzed by detectives on suspicion of conspiring to import class B drugs.