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1984: Essex police make record drugs haul
Police and Customs in Essex have seized what is thought to be the biggest haul of cannabis made in a single raid in Britain.

The drugs were discovered on a schooner, moored in the village of North Fambridge on the River Crouch in Essex.

Eight people are in custody after police sealed off the village late last night and made arrests under high security.

Armed police and a helicopter were used in the culmination of an eighteen month investigation called Operation Bishop.

This is a bit of a feather in our cap
Essex Police spokesman
British Customs have been tracking the 85 foot (26 m) schooner, the Robert Gordon, since receiving information that it had picked up a large consignment east of Cyprus.

Once it reached the Channel the yacht was then followed by radar to its destination.

Customs Investigating Officer, Don Holmans, said the reaction of the smugglers as they were apprehended was that of "absolute astonishment".

Police and Customs then drove off with the drugs in the same vans the gang had hired.

The cannabis resin, known as 'Lebanese Gold', has an estimated street value of around 10 million. It will now be destroyed.

An Essex police spokesman said: "The haul was really high-grade cannabis. This is a bit of a feather in our cap."

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'Lebanese Gold Resin' cannabis
Customs tracked the smugglers all the way from the Mediterranean

In Context
Following Operation Bishop, five men were convicted and jailed in 1985 for involvement with the smuggling of 4.3 tons of cannabis with a street-value of 10.8 million.

The drugs had originally been loaded onto the schooner off the coast of northern Lebanon, near Tripoli.

One of the convicted told investigators the drugs had been bought from Lebanese gunmen.

Corruption, political instability and war created good conditions for a drug trafficking economy in the Lebanon.

Drug production and smuggling was a major source of income for Middle Eastern guerrilla organisations and militias during the 1980s.

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