Arrests made in Isle of Wight amid investigation into drugs found on Sussex beaches

A suspect has been released on police bail after drugs washed up on multiple beaches in Sussex.

Suspicious packages appeared on beaches across Sussex in October, with more sightings reported in Dorset and Hampshire.

The first sightings of the drug packages – marked with the word POPI – were reported on the Isle of Wight, with more cocaine being washed up in Ferring, Middleton-on-Sea, Felpham, Selsey, Goring-by-Sea, West Wittering and Hove.

Armed police officers, alongside Coastguard and lifeboat volunteers, were called to the beaches after the discoveries were made.

A multi-agency operation has been underway for more than a month, with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary working alongside Sussex Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

A spokesperson for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said: “On Saturday, October 7, a package washed up on the beach between Atherfield Point and Chine. The following afternoon, a 78-year-old man from Ventnor, was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a drug of class A. Having made enquiries throughout that afternoon, the man was released with no further action.

"On Sunday, October 15, we were called by a member of the public, who said he had found two suspicious packages believed to be cocaine washed up on the beach in Chale on Friday, October 13.

"Following an initial investigation, it was suspected the packages had been opened and moved before police were called. A 57-year-old man from Ryde was arrested for being concerned in the supply of drugs and has been bailed until January 15.”

Police said these arrests were ‘unrelated to the importation’ and ‘this aspect is being dealt with by the NCA’. The NCA has since confirmed it has not yet made any arrests in connection with this.