Written by Camila de Albizoy, CNN
Despite its reputation as one of the most romantic cities in Europe, London is a town populated by people who are more interested in drugs than love.
UK police seized around $44 million of cocaine and arrested 13 people over the weekend, after they discovered the hard-boiled variety at a London warehouse.
The onions were worth $4.60 each on the street in Manhattan, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told CNN on Sunday.
The contraband was being shipped from England to a base in Holland and passed off as onion rings and filled with nacho cheese to trick customs officers at Paddington Station in London.
“One of our detectives was inspecting some produce from Holland, a vegetable that’s shipped over, when he noticed the onion rings had a label on it that had the number of a middleman who was supposed to be forwarding the onions on to a point in Holland,” Shea said.
“With his training, he reviewed that particular series of pictures on the inside of the onion rings. That middleman actually had a copy of a shipping label on him and a price point. He quickly identified the onion rings as being illicitly produced.
“He contacted his supervisor and they were able to alert the UK customs, who were able to act on that information in concert with the US Customs and Border Protection.
“This consignment was turned around and seized and removed from circulation. I don’t know how many middlemen had access to this particular batch, but it was a quite substantial quantity.”
City of glass: Australia
The massive haul is part of what is being hailed by the AFP as one of the largest-ever drug busts in the southern hemisphere. It is thought to have been comprised of 80 kilos (175 pounds) of cocaine and 80 kilos (176 pounds) of MDMA (ecstasy).
Police raided the warehouse at noon on Saturday, followed by a massive simultaneous sweep through two suspected stash houses in London and the industrial estate in Birmingham.
That discovery resulted in 12 arrests. A further one was arrested Monday morning, for conspiracy to import Class A drugs.
In all, the AFP has arrested 11 men and one woman from Britain and from Sydney, Australia.
US Cops at work
“This is huge, it’s the biggest shipment seized in England to date,” said an AFP spokesperson to CNN.
In March, another big bust came when around 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of cocaine was seized at a New York port.
According to Shea, the onion rings come from a supplier, Western Cromwell Specialists, based in London.
Not so appealing: Mexico
CNN has reached out to Western Cromwell Specialists for comment.
According to Shea, investigators have also uncovered documents indicating the onion rings have been brought into the country by way of Southern Mexico.
“These consignments, these packages, are designed to be passed through a material method which will allow them to be brought through a series of businesses which are not involved in transporting industrial material,” Shea said.