MILLIONS of pounds worth of cocaine hidden with banana boxes has been seized at the Port of Tilbury.

The huge haul of the Class A drug, weighing 25kg, was discovered on New Year's Eve by Border Force officers.

The drugs were placed in shrink-wrapped packages and hidden in a container passing through the port which had arrived from Costa Rica.

An investigation has been launched by the National Crime Agency's Border Policing Command, but no arrests have yet been made.

Mark Kennedy, Border Force Assistant Director at Tilbury, said: "The drugs were found in a cardboard box at the front of the container.

"We believe that the smugglers’ plan would have been for an accomplice to remove the drugs, leaving  the importers of the bananas none the wiser that the box had already been opened."

Officers at the port use hi-tech equipment such as container scanners to spot illegal substances as they come in through the port.

Border Force officials have said in the past that with ships frequently arriving at Tilbury from countries in South America, they need to be on the ball to detect drug smuggling.

Kennedy added: "Seizures like this demonstrate how Border Force officers are at the forefront of the fight to keep illegal drugs and other banned substances off the streets."

The multi-million pound cocaine haul is the third to have been found at the Port of Tilbury in the last nine months.

Southend Standard:

The haul in its shrink wrapped packaging after being seized

In September last year, a £2.4million batch was found hidden in a container carrying nuts.

And in April 2013, a whopping £17million haul of the Class A drug was discovered on a ship at the port bound for Belgium from Senegal.

Anyone with information about the suspected New Year's Eve smuggling should contact our hotline on 0800 59 5000.