Police Seize Massive Shipments Of Pineapples Filled With Cocaine

By Keri Blakinger 01/22/18

More than 1,600 pounds of cocaine were found stuffed inside of the hollowed-out pineapples. 

Image: 
Police removing covaine from pineapple
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Nine people were arrested in a massive European drug bust that netted roughly 745 kilos of cocaine hidden in pineapples, Spanish police said on Wednesday.

Led by two Colombian brothers, the drug gang allegedly hauled cocaine from South America to laboratories in Spain with a stop in Portugal along the way. Police framed it as a long-standing international drug ring.

“This organized international group had repeatedly brought large quantities of cocaine to the European continent,” Portuguese investigators said, according to Reuters. The Iberian Peninsula has long been a major gateway for drugs headed into Europe. 

The recent arrests came as the result of a series of busts, including one that netted suitcases full of cocaine in a Barcelona garage and another that uncovered a ship full of cocaine-stuffed fruit. 

The investigation kicked off in April, when agents first learned of the organization. A probe initially led authorities to a cluster of homes in Madrid that served as clandestine laboratories. From there, police unraveled the path of the drugs. 

Typically, the drug-laced fruit would start its voyage to Europe from Panama, where it was packed into ships headed for the port of Lisbon. As a cover, the traffickers used a fruit import company to transport the drugs—all conveniently disguised inside hollowed-out fruit. Ultimately, authorities caught onto the ruse and intercepted two shipments en route to Lisbon, bringing in 355 kilos of cocaine. 

After arrival in Europe, the gang typically stashed its drugs in a safehouse in the Barcelona area, police said. Every 15 to 20 days, one of the brothers would drive another shipment from there to Madrid, bringing it back to laboratories to cut it with additives

In November, investigators intercepted a transport vehicle mid-trip and found 40 packets of cocaine hidden in passenger compartment under a spare wheel. 

In addition to the huge haul of blow, police seized two hydraulic presses, three packaging machines and more than €400,000 in cash in the course of their raids. They also recovered 350 kilos of cocaine stashed in suitcases in a van parked in a Tarrasa garage. 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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