Lea Bridge drugs find: The facts

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Shocked staff at an iconic factory near Belper discovered cocaine with a street value of up to £500,000 stashed inside a shipping container.

The alarm was raised when workers at at John Smedley Limited – which claims to be the oldest manufacturing factory in the world – found a rucksack containing what they believed to be drugs.

The bag was found sitting on top a pile of yarn which was being delivered to the factory by a third party lorry company.

A John Smedley worker alerted police to the find and officers later confirmed the holdall was crammed full of five kilogrammes of class A drugs.

No arrests have been made and no staff at Lea Bridge based John Smedley’s have been formally interviewed.

Detective Chief Inspector Sean Dawson said: “This is one of the biggest seizures we have had in the county in recent months.

“A detailed examination is now underway into the items we have seized to find out where the drugs came from and where they were heading to.

“Drug dealing is a blight on our society and whenever we receive information about drugs in our communities we act on it.”

The drugs were found on June 26. However, Derbyshire Police only released details about the incident this week after their investigation drew a blank.

They are now appealing for anyone who has any information to come forward to help further their investigation.

A spokesman for John Smedley’s said: “One of our staff found a suspect packet, but we didn’t know until this week that it was full of cocaine.

“It was a total shock really - like something out of a film. We put it in the safe until the police arrived and they took it away to be examined.

“It would be quite interesting to find out where it came from. Not everyone at the firm knows about it yet.”

John Smedley Limited has been manufacturing the finest knitwear from cotton and merino wool since 1784, in Lea. It was founded by Peter Nightingale – an ancestor of Florence Nightingale – and John Smedley.

Today it employs around 400 people.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact Derbyshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.