Employees at a Colruyt supermarket in Sint-Truiden in Limburg province last week discovered 10kg of smuggled cocaine in a shipment of bananas. The bananas had been transported from the port of Antwerp during the night of Thursday to Friday, and staff at Colruyt were unloading the cargo when the discovery was made. Police were notified immediately.
Investigators are now busy trying to trace the source of the bananas, which may help lead them to the drugs smugglers. The drugs themselves have a street value of 500,000 euro, the Limburg prosecutor’s office estimated.
Tropical food products are an increasingly popular cover for smuggled drugs, as they arrive in such quantities that proper surveillance is difficult. The bananas in this case, for instance, had already cleared police and customs checks, and were waiting for the dealers to pick them up – until something presumably went wrong in the last link of the chain.
In December, a half tonne of cocaine was discovered hidden in a shipment of cacao beans from Ecuador. In that case, customs officers were acting on intelligence received from Ecuadorean colleagues.
Two weeks ago a load of cocaine weighing 1.1 tonnes was found among vats of fruit pulp in a warehouse in Lint near Kontich in Antwerp province. Investigators had previously estimated the load at 500kg. Previously this year, two shipment of cocaine hidden among wood products had been discovered weighing 343kg and 232g. Five suspects were arrested.
Last year, a record 50.1 tonnes of cocaine was discovered being smuggled through the port of Antwerp, the port authority said in its annual report for 2018.