Source AP ©

British law enforcement agency confiscates fifth of Europe's annual cocaine supply

A new British law enforcement agency seized in its first year a fifth of Europe's annual cocaine supply worth more than 3 billion pounds (US$5.9 billion; 4.4 billion EUR).

Authorities seized 73 metric tons (80.5 U.S. tons) of cocaine and 1.5 metric tons (1.65 U.S. tons) of heroin, according to the first annual report of the Serious Organized Crime Agency.

The agency began operations in April 2006 after the merger of several British criminal intelligence agencies. It coordinates the government's efforts to tackle drug trafficking, human smuggling, money laundering and other organized crime activities.

Investigations by the agency led to 749 arrests in Britain and 1,096 arrests worldwide, the report said. In the year ending March 31, 2007, the agency also prevented 35 potential murders and compiled a list of the 1,600 most dangerous criminals in Britain, the report said.

About 3.3 million pounds (US$6.5 million; 4.8 million EUR) of cash were also recovered. The agency targets criminal organizations in part by trying to cut off their money supply.