Cocaine worth €25 million found in Aldi banana boxes in north Germany
A record amount of the class A drug cocaine – around 500 kilograms – was discovered in crates of bananas near supermarkets in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
Staff at six branches of the Aldi supermarket chain in Rostock as well as the Aldi logistics centre in Jarmen, near the Baltic Sea islands of Usedom and Rügen, discovered a total of around half a ton of cocaine hidden in banana boxes on Wednesday.
The value of the drugs could have a street value of around €25 million, according to reports.
According to Harald Nowack, spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Rostock, it is still impossible to say exactly how big the find actually is.
"We don't have the final quantity yet, because we simply haven't been able to evaluate it yet, because of the quantity," Nowack told NDR 1 Radio MV.
But one thing is certain: "This magnitude is really unique for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania."
Initial investigations have found the discovery amounts to at least 500 kg of cocaine.
Fruit crates across Germany searched
After the discovery in the northern state, police searched for similar cases in other areas of Germany. By Thursday afternoon, however, nothing had been reported outside Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said a spokesman for the Rostock public prosecutor's office.
German media have been reporting on the find.
The investigation has been taken over by a team made up of members from the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) and the Hamburg Customs Investigation Office.
The banana cartons with the cocaine packets allegedly arrived by ship from Latin America. For tactical reasons, the authorities spokesman did not say which ports they were shipped through.
According to the LKA, this is probably the largest amount of cocaine ever found in the northeast state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
A company spokesman for Aldi, meanwhile, confirmed that a logistics centre and branches of the supermarket chain were affected. He did not give further details.
Coke in fruit common
Cocaine is discovered fairly regularly in fruit crates and shipping containers: a total of 87 kg was found last week in supermarkets in the Rhine-Main region, and a ton was discovered in Hamburg in November 2018. Meanwhile, 120 kg of cocaine was found in Leverkusen in December 2017.
In February, the Public Prosecutor's Office in Landshut brought charges against eight men who allegedly smuggled two tons of cocaine from Ecuador to Germany within eight months.