Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Cocaine cargo hidden in bananas reaches shops in Spain

Bananas, file pic
Police were alerted after cocaine was found in a box of bananas

Drug smugglers appear to have made a major slip-up, after huge quantities of cocaine were delivered to supermarkets in Spain hidden in boxes of bananas.

Police were alerted after a shelf-stacker at a Lidl supermarket in Madrid found a brick of neatly wrapped cocaine under a bunch of the fruit on Saturday.

Searching other Lidl shops, police sniffer dogs reportedly found 25 such packets, worth several million euros.

The fruit had been shipped in from Ecuador and Ivory Coast.

Reports suggest an error by drug smugglers had led to their failing to retrieve almost 80kg (175lb) of cocaine from the boxes before they were distributed. Police said the drug packets had not made it onto supermarket shelves.

Meanwhile, Dutch police arrested five men and seized more than a tonne of cocaine hidden in a shipment of whisky from Jamaica.

With a street value of some 30m euros, the 1,100kg of cocaine was the largest Dutch seizure of drugs from the Caribbean island, Reuters reported.

Nappies and seafood

The plantain bananas had arrived at a Madrid wholesale fruit and vegetable market from the south-east port of Sagunto last week, destined for supermarkets in the Madrid area.

Lidl sign outside supermarket, file pic
Lidl destroyed thousands of bananas after the discovery

Bananas were removed from shelves of the Lidl supermarkets in the capital, and a tonne of the fruit had been destroyed, said a spokesman for the German company.

"It's the first time that this has happened to Lidl in Spain - and we hope it's also the last," he told the BBC.

A police investigation into the find has spread from the capital to the eastern Caceres region.

The discovery comes weeks after police discovered 228kg of cocaine hidden in banana boxes shipped into Sagunto.

Last year Spanish police seized more than 14 tonnes of cocaine, which had been smuggled into the country in stuffed animals, nappies, seafood and, in one instance, a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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UPI 175 pounds of cocaine sent to stores - 11 hrs ago
The Sun Smuggler Alex Minty confesses all 1 minute ago - 12 hrs ago
Telegraph Cocaine reaches supermarket - 15 hrs ago

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