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Bananas yield major cocaine haul

An apparent slip-up by drug smugglers in the Belgian port of Antwerp has delivered about 100 kilograms of cocaine into the hands of Swiss police.

A worker at a banana ripening facility in canton Bern noticed “suspicious green bags” when checking a crate of the fruit on Tuesday, and the police were called.

The bags were found to contain a total of 70kg of cocaine.

Some of the crates had already been forwarded unopened to customers in cantons Thurgau and Graubünden, who were immediately alerted. On opening them, the police found another 30kg.

The owner of the ripening facility told the 20 Minuten free newspaper that the entire consignment had now been checked, and he did not expect any more drugs to be discovered.

However, police in Germany reported on Friday that they had found eight packages containing a total of 10kg of cocaine in a banana crate in the northern city of Magdeburg. It is thought they could be part of the same delivery.

The bananas had arrived in Antwerp from Colombia. The police presume that whoever was supposed to recover the bags there failed to do so. The shipment had apparently been delayed en route, leading to a mix-up during unloading.

Investigations are continuing to determine the intended destination.

In July this year German police discovered 50kg of cocaine in a banana consignment from Colombia delivered to Cologne.

In February workers in Basel found 70kg of cocaine powder in a container-load of coffee from Guatemala being unloaded at one of the Rhine ports.

The largest ever cocaine haul in Switzerland was in 2007, when 124kg was found in an apartment and garage in Zurich.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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