LONDON  -    Heroin with a street value of more than £120m has been discovered hidden among towels and dressing gowns on board a container ship.

The ship, MV Gibraltar, was heading for the Belgian city of Antwerp when Border Force officers and NCA in the United Kingdom on Friday seized 1,3 kilograms of the drug.

NCA deputy director of investigations, Matt Horne, called the haul “a record heroin seizure in the United Kingdom and one of the largest ever in Europe”.

According to the British authorities, the drugs had a street value of €130m.

The staggering 1,297kg shipment was stopped at the port on Friday, August 30 following an global investigation, preventing organised crime groups from cashing in on millions of pounds worth of the Class A drug. NCA intelligence indicated that the ship would be carrying heroin to the Belgian port of Antwerp, via Felixstowe.

Upon arrival in Belgium on September 1, the container was unloaded and driven to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

It is said the haul, which would be worth £27m to gangs, was en route to Antwerp before being searched by officers from Border Force and the National Crime Agency (NCA) - who found the substance concealed among a load of towels and bathrobes.

The container was then put back on the boat as it set off for Antwerp.

“The size of this and other recent shipments demonstrate the scale of the threat we face”.

‘We can be certain that some of these drugs would eventually have been sold in the United Kingdom, fuelling high levels of violence and exploitation including what we see in county lines offending nationwide.

It came in the month £40m of heroin, about 400kg (62st 13lb), was found in similar circumstances at Felixstowe dock on 2 August.

“NCA officers on the front line lead the fight against the serious and organised criminals who chase profits while dominating and intimidating communities”, he said.

It took border force officers in Felixstowe almost six hours to remove the drugs, which had been stitched into towels in 1kg blocks.

“However, reducing United Kingdom demand for illegal commodities such as heroin requires a systematic response across multiple sectors, including health and social care, prisons and education”.