Record Haul in UK, Home to Developed World's Cheapest Coke

By Will Godfrey 08/04/11

British border agents find yacht stuffed with cocaine, while their heavy-using compatriots enjoy rock-bottom prices.

The Louise: Roomy Photo via

Britain is home to the cheapest cocaine in the developed world and plentiful supply may be partly why. 1.2 metric tons of 90% pure coke were seized from a luxury yacht at Southampton last month—the largest ever British seizure, the UK border agency announced yesterday—although this particular merchandise was stopping off en route from the Caribbean to the Netherlands. The stash—which could have been turned into about eight tons of street material, valued at £300 million—was so well-hidden on board the 65ft pleasure cruiser, the Louise, that agents took six days to dismantle the boat and find it. Meanwhile Dutch police arrested six men. Cocaine has an average street price of just over $60 per gram in the UK, marginally lower than in Holland—while $120 is the going rate quoted for the US in the recent UN World Drug Report. In an apparent cause-and-effect situation, 2.6% of the UK adult population uses cocaine—the joint-highest developed-world rate alongside Spain—topping the 2.4% rate in the US. But just 0.6% of Dutch adults are users. Cocaine prices have dropped steeply in Europe in recent years and the continent has become almost as big a market as the US.


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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.