THREE Bournemouth homes have been searched after half a tonne of cocaine worth more than £50 million was discovered aboard a private jet.

The properties were raided by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers after the find was made on Monday. Five men have been arrested.

Border Force officers found around 500kg of the class A drug after searching an aircraft that flew into the UK from Bogota in Colombia.

Two Britons, two Spaniards and an Italian were arrested on suspicion of importing the drugs after the twin-engined jet landed at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire.

The Border Force said that the drug was hidden in 15 suitcases that were found on board.

Border Force deputy chief operating officer Mike Stepney said: "After meeting the flight and questioning those on board, officers became suspicious and searched the aircraft and their luggage.

"When opened, each case was found to contain between 34 to 37 tape wrapped packages weighing approximately one kilo each.

"One of these was pierced and a white powder exposed which tested positive for cocaine."

Computers and phones were seized from the homes in Bournemouth.

NCA operations manager Siobhan Micklethwaite said: "This is a major seizure of cocaine, one of the largest flown into the UK by plane in many years, and this seizure by Border Force represents a major blow to organised crime.

"We estimate that once cut and sold on the streets in the UK it would have had a potential value in excess of £50 million."

The aircraft crew were questioned before being released without charge.