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Drug traffickers hid haul in banana shipments 

PAGE 18  Drug traffickers hid  haul in banana shipments

Police in Spain and Portugal have broken up a cocaine trafficking gang which hid drugs in shipments of bananas.

Eight people of Spanish, Ecuadorian and Colombian nationalities have been de-tained as part of the ongoing operation and further arrests are likely. Raids were also carried out in Madrid and and in the Galician towns of Villagarcía de Arosa and San Ciprián de Viñas.

The operation was carried out by Spain’s National Police, the Tax Agency, the Judicial Police of Portugal and the National Police of Ecuador.

They unearthed the “cocaine route” through the Portuguese port of Leixões to Spain after being tipped off about a series of meetings in Orense in north-west Spain between a fruit industrialist, a well-known drug trafficker from Villagarcía de Arosa and the representative of a Colombian office based in Madrid. It was intended to open a gateway through one of the Galician ports.

“In those meetings, they began the legal procedures so that the drug could reach Spain hidden in a legal merchandise of bananas that another of those involved had acquired,” said a police spokesman.

The police investigations revealed that the goods coming from Guayaquil (Ecuador) would arrive at Leixões. Two days later, the container investigated was delivered to the headquarters of a company located in San Ciprián de Viñas, where all the people involved were arrested. The cocaine was found hidden amongst bananas in dozens of sealed crates, some of them with Christmas seals and messages.

Police have seized 430 kilograms of cocaine, 70,000 euros, several high-end vehicles, dozens of mobile phones and documentation related to the import of cocaine.