Spain Seizes Record Amount of Cocaine Hidden in Banana Boxes

Spanish police have seized a record-breaking 9.5 tonnes of cocaine concealed inside boxes of bananas that were shipped from Ecuador to the southern port of Algeciras.

Bananas BoxPackages of bananas are often used to conceal drugs. (Photo: Scot Nelson, Flickr, License)The seizure marks the largest ever made in Spain, a police statement said on Friday.

"This operation signifies an unprecedented blow to one of the world’s most significant criminal organizations involved in cocaine distribution, whose recipients were Europe’s primary criminal networks," the statement explained.

Authorities discovered over 30 distinct logos corresponding to various European criminal rings on the boxes containing the illicit drug.

In a video released by the police, officers showcase piles of boxes containing cocaine with logos such as BR 7 and RAW 4 - codes that allegedly mark various criminal organizations.

This operation follows the dismantling at the end of June of another criminal organization that had been sending substantial amounts of cocaine concealed in banana containers originating from South America.

In this instance, Colombian and Spanish authorities seized a total of 6.5 tonnes of cocaine through three distinct operations over the preceding seven months. According to Europol, all these shipments were linked to a large-scale organization led by a kingpin based in Malaga, southern Spain.

Europol stated that the crime boss, who is also a member of a well-known local family from the Spanish town of Castellar de la Frontera, headed an organization responsible for smuggling tonnes of cocaine from Ecuador and Colombia into the European Union.

In a separate operation earlier in August, Spanish authorities seized 700 kilograms of cocaine hidden on a sailboat arriving from South America near the Canary Islands, resulting in the arrest of several individuals.

The criminal gang responsible for the 9.5 tonnes of cocaine had access to an extensive business network for transporting the drugs from Ecuador to Spain, specifically to the ports of Vigo in northern Spain and Algeciras.

This network included an unnamed company exporting bananas located in Machala, Ecuador, which shipped the fruit to different companies in Spain controlled by members of the criminal organization.

Spanish investigators discovered that the network possessed significant logistical capacity, enabling it to dispatch 40 containers per month to Europe, some of which had drugs in them.

Subsequently, Spanish police initiated inspections of shipments associated with this organization and identified 15 containers allegedly containing drugs that entered Europe at the beginning of August.

After discerning the pattern, the police commenced monitoring the company's shipments and ultimately found 9,436 kilograms of cocaine on August 23rd in a refrigerated banana container at the port of Algeciras.