Fifty kilos of heroin and more than a ton of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco were found during a week of heightened operational activity at Essex air and sea ports as law enforcement agencies continue to protect the public from the threat of terrorism and organised crime.

Essex Police and colleagues from Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) carried out operations at Stansted and Southend airports and Harwich, Tilbury and Purfleet sea ports to deter and disrupt those involved in terrorist activity and serious crime.

Officers from NCA and Border Force found the 50 kilos of heroin, with a street value of about £2.5million, during a search of a lorry at Harwich port on Monday, June 8.

A ton of hand-rolling tobacco, 200,000 cigarettes and 92 kg of loose tobacco were found by Border Force during a search on a cargo aircraft at Stansted on Thursday, June 11, together with a quantity of Class B drugs.

The week’s activity also saw officers from all UK police forces working closely with partner agencies on around 550 operational activities targeting terrorist-related activity and serious organised crime. Operations were carried out targeting the illegal passage of cash, weapons, drugs, goods and people through ports.

This activity also sought to promote a closer working partnership between border and law enforcement agencies and to raise awareness among passengers and ports employees.

Specialist Counter Terrorism Security Advisors and officers from Border Force, NCA and HMRC held briefings for Essex ports staff to give advice about signs and behaviour they should be aware of and what they should do if they spot something suspicious.

The heightened security and checks also involved cash and drug detection dogs from Essex Police and Border Force deployed at ports across the county.

Essex roads policing officers were also involved in an operation using automatic number plate recognition technology (ANPR) to detect and deter criminals using roads around the Stansted airport area. More than 30,000 vehicles were checked by ANPR and 140 were stopped for further investigations. More than 40 motoring offences were detected and Border Force and other agencies checked drivers and passengers.

The week’s activity, which was coordinated by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters (NCTPHQ), also saw officers from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk police forces working closely with partner agencies.

Senior Ports Officer, DCI Barry Wix, of Essex Police said: "Members of the public and the travel industry have an active part to play in keeping the UK safe.

"With the increased threat of terrorism, this week of activity has shown partner agencies are working closely across the region to protect our communities.

"This work goes on 52 weeks of the year, but as we approach the summer - and what is traditionally the busiest period for our ports - this is a timely reminder of the work that police and partner agencies carry out to disrupt, deter and detect both terrorist activity and organised crime.

"We continue to ask the public to remain vigilant by reporting suspicious activity to the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789321 or by calling Police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.”

Border Force Director General, Sir Charles Montgomery said: "This week’s successful activity demonstrates the vital work Border Force officers are doing on the front line every day to protect our national security by identifying and disrupting organised crime gangs and individuals with links to terrorism.

"Border Force continues to work in partnership with the police, HMRC and NCA to tackle the global illicit trade in counterfeit goods and illegal substances as well as detecting British fighters attempting to return to the UK.”

Richard Las, Deputy Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: "We work closely with our law enforcement partners to target crime and protect the UK from tax evasion and fraud, which funds serious organised crime. This initiative has been a major success for all agencies and we will continue to build on our intelligence and investigations into smuggling activities to reassure the public and bring these criminals before the courts."

Tom Dowdall, Deputy Director of the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, said: "This week highlights the crucial work that law enforcement performs on a daily basis in combating the scourge of organised criminals that trade in guns, drugs and human trafficking.

"What is essential is the engagement with those working, living in and travelling through the UK’s port and airfield communities. Reporting something slightly unusual could be the piece of information that helps prevent the misery brought by drugs, weapons and human trafficking from reaching Britain’s streets.”