Bananas Donated To Prison Contained $18M Worth of Cocaine

By Kelly Burch 09/26/18

The two unclaimed pallets of ripe bananas were filled with a lot more than potassium. 

Pallet of cocaine found inside Dole banana boxes
Photo via Texas Department of Criminal Justice

A Texas prison got much more than it bargained for, when a shipment of donated bananas bound for the penitentiary was found to contain nearly $18 million worth of cocaine. 

“Sometimes, life gives you lemons. Sometimes, it gives you bananas. And sometimes, it gives you something you'd never expect!” the Texas Department of Criminal Justice wrote in a Facebook post.

According to NPR, representatives from the Ports of America in Freeport, Texas contacted the department when two pallets' worth of ripe bananas were left unclaimed at the port. The port agreed to donate the fruit to the Wayne Scott Unit prison farm in Brazoria County so they could be consumed before they went bad. 

“Two sergeants of the Scott Unit arrived to pick them up, and discovered something not quite right,” the department wrote. 

When the correctional officers were loading the 45 boxes of bananas, one noticed that a particular box felt different.

“They snipped the straps, pulled free the box, and opened it up. Inside, under a bundle of bananas, he found another bundle! Inside that? What appeared to be a white powdery substance,” the department wrote. 

That led to the whole shipment being searched and authorities found 540 packages of cocaine with a street value of $17.8 million. 

“U.S. Customs arrived on the scene, and the substance tested positive for cocaine,” the department wrote. “Customs agents then searched each box on the two pallets, and they were all ripe and loaded. Once all 45 boxes had been emptied, what was left was quite the cache.”

The department praised the attentiveness of the corrections officers who followed his gut.

“With an instinct that something just wasn't quite right, our guys uncovered 540 packages of cocaine within the shipment, with an estimated street value of $17,820,000!” the department wrote. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating the cocaine shipment. They have not released where the shipment came from or who the intended recipient was.

Apparently, shipping cocaine in bananas is relatively common. In April, Spanish police seized nearly 9 tons of cocaine in a shipment of bananas from Colombia. Albanian, Romanian and German police have also uncovered cocaine in banana shipments shipped from Colombia, the largest producer of cocaine.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.