Five men are being questioned by National Crime Agency investigators following the seizure of approximately half a tonne of cocaine from a private jet at Farnborough Airport.
The drugs were discovered in suitcases by Border Force officers who carried out checks on an incoming flight from Bogota, Colombia. The aircraft had been chartered from a private company.
Five passengers on board the flight, two British men, two Spanish men and an Italian were arrested on suspicion of importing class A drugs.
Three addresses in the Bournemouth area have been searched by the NCA as part of the investigation, and items such as computers and phones seized.
The crew of the plane have been released without charge.
NCA operations manager Siobhan Micklethwaite said: “This is a major seizure of cocaine, one of the largest flown into the UK by plane in many years, and this seizure by Border Force represents a major blow to organised crime.
“We estimate that once cut and sold on the streets in the UK it would have had a potential value in excess of £50 million.
“Our investigations into this attempted importation are continuing.”
Border Force Deputy Chief Operating Officer Mike Stepney said: “Working with law enforcement colleagues like the National Crime Agency we are determined to prevent drug trafficking and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was a significant find made possible by the vigilance of dedicated Border Force officers. They have prevented a substantial quantity of drugs from ending up on our streets and causing untold misery and damage to our communities.
“After meeting the flight and questioning those on board, officers became suspicious and searched the aircraft and their luggage. When opened, each case was found to contain between 34 to 37 tape wrapped packages weighing approximately one kilo each. One of these was pierced and a white powder exposed which tested positive for cocaine.”