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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 9 August 2022

Dutch Customs find €225m of cocaine hidden inside a shipment of banana puree

It is the latest cocaine seizure associated with banana products, including in Ireland, on shipping destined for Rotterdam.

Image: Openbaar Ministerie Rotterdam

CUSTOMS IN A Dutch port have seized a consignment of cocaine worth €225m hidden in a shipment of banana puree. 

The seizure was located on a ship at  Rotterdam and the search operation took place on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. 

It is the latest seizure on a ship arriving in the Dutch port – just this week gardaí took possession of €35m of cocaine found in a shipment disguised as charcoal. 

As previously reported by The Journal banana shipments from South and Central America are being used by a criminal alliance which includes the Kinahan Organised Crime Group. 

Gardaí, the Naval Service and Customs have made seizures on banana shipments arriving on a weekly basis into Ireland. It is not known if this shipment visited Ireland before arriving in the Netherlands. 

A Dutch Customs statement said that the find was concealed among barrels and packaging containing the banana product. 

“During a check in the port of Rotterdam, customs intercepted a consignment of 3001 kilos of cocaine on Tuesday to Wednesday night. The street value is more than 225 million euros. 

“The narcotics were hidden in a container from Ecuador and loaded with barrels of banana puree. The container was destined for a company in Basel, Switzerland. 

“The company probably has nothing to do with the smuggling. This find is one of the largest cocaine seizures in the port of Rotterdam. The drugs have been destroyed,” the statement said. 

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HARC 1 A Dutch Customs photograph of the drugs inside the container. Source: Openbaar Ministerie Rotterdam

The find was made by the Hit and Run Cargo (HARC) team, a specialist unit which is a collaboration of Customs, Seaport Police, Fraud unit investigators and the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam, are continuing to investigate the case. 

The team was specially set up 23 years ago to combat drug smuggling in Rotterdam and particularly focuses on global intelligence sourcing.

Security sources have said that detectives from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, attached to Special Crime Operations, have been liaising with their Dutch counterparts.

“It is not known if this is a Kinahan operation but the way it works is that there would be a number of gangs raising the funds to pay for it and then there would be an organiser of the shipment. 

“This is the kind of activity being looked at by gardaí and is part of a more global operation involving a number of countries,” a source explained. 

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