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6.5 tonnes of cocaine found hidden in bananas in Spain

Cocaine found in boxes of bananas
Cocaine found in boxes of bananas Copyright Eurpol - Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil)
Copyright Eurpol - Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil)
By Joshua Askew
Published on
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The leader of the criminal network behind the bust is considered to be one of Spain’s biggest drug traffickers.

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More than six tonnes of cocaine have been found hidden between bananas in Spain and Columbia, according to Europol. 

The seizure by multiple European police forces hit one of Spain's biggest narco bosses, intercepting around €223 million worth of the drug. 

Europol supported the Spanish, Columbian and Latvian police investigation into a criminal network involved in shipping cocaine from South America to Europe. 

Thirteen people were arrested and eight locations were searched in the Spanish cities of Cádiz and Malaga during the operation, which led to the seizure of 6.5 tonnes of cocaine, luxury watches and €1.5 million in cash. 

With cocaine typically sold on the streets in single or half grams, the amount seized equates to at least 6.5 million individual servings. 

Bananas were used as a cover to smuggle the drug from South America. 

Once the shipments arrived in the Spanish port of Algeciras, they were taken to a warehouse where the pallets laden with cocaine were replaced with identical ones containing the fruit. 

The leader of the criminal network behind the smuggling operation is considered to be one of Spain’s biggest drug traffickers. 

Based in Malaga, the kingpin headed a large network, smuggling tonnes of cocaine from Ecuador and Colombia to the EU for wholesale selling. 

The crime boss is also a member of a well-known family from the Spanish city Castellar de la Frontera, which used a wholesale frozen fish company in Algeciras as a front. 

This business was used to launder illicit assets and corrupt public officials. 

A large number of individual cocaine shipments were seized by the authorities over the past seven months. 

In December 2022, the Colombian police seized some 3 tonnes of cocaine concealed in banana shipments destined for Algeciras. 

In another incident, Colombian authorities intercepted a second shipment of 1.25 tonnes of cocaine at the port of Cartagena. 

In May 2023, to avoid possible interceptions in Colombia, the criminal network arranged a new shipment directly from Ecuador to Algeciras, according to Europol. 

This time, the drugs reached Spain. But Spanish authorities intercepted the large shipment of more than 2 tonnes of cocaine while it was on its way to a nearby warehouse. 

Again the drug was hidden between legal shipments of bananas. During this intervention, Spanish officers arrested seven suspects.

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