Italian police seized three tons of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas with the help of a drug-sniffing dog.
The 2,734 kilos were hidden in packages among 70 tons of boxed bananas shipped from Ecuador, authorities said Tuesday.
The seizure occurred at the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro, in Italy’s “toe,” after customs officials became suspicious of two containers on a cargo ship. The port is near where the ‘Ndrangheta crime organization, one of the world’s biggest drug traffickers, operates.
The Guardia di Finanza said their investigation into the refrigerated containers found that the shippers of the bananas did not usually move such large amounts of fruit.
Using scanners and a dog named Joel, the cocaine was discovered after the 40-foot containers had been loaded onto trucks.
The drugs, which were ultimately meant to arrive in Armenia after traveling through the Georgian city of Batum on the Black Sea, were of “the purest quality and in perfect condition,” with a street value of about $900 million, the Guardia di Finanza said.
Police added that 1,320 pounds of cocaine hidden among exotic fruit from Ecuador was found in six container trucks at the same port just days before the latest seizure. Customs police said those trucks were headed for Georgia, Croatia, and Greece.
The Guardia di Finanza said its investigators must continue to use different strategies as the methods traffickers use are “always evolving.”
A total of 37 tons of cocaine have been seized at the port since January 2021, officials said.
Earlier this month, a coordinated bust among police from eight European countries, Brazil and Belize resulted in the arrest of 132 ‘Ndrangheta members. The organization has reportedly grown more powerful than Sicily’s Cosa Nostra because of its drug trafficking.
With News Wire Services