Spain Busts Record-Breaking 9.5 Tons of Cocaine Hidden in Banana Shipment from Ecuador Meant to Delivered to 30 European Drug Rings

The criminal group managed to ship as many as 40 containers on a monthly basis, with certain shipments containing drugs, according to law enforcement officials.

Spanish authorities have confiscated a record-breaking 9.5 tons of cocaine hidden in banana boxes originating from Ecuador, in the country's biggest cocaine haul. The shipment was meant to go to 30 European drug kings.

The prolific quantity of the drug was found on Wednesday in a refrigerated container, which was part of a cargo shipment containing 1,080 boxes of bananas, said José Carlos Arobes, a representative from the Spanish tax agency, confirmed this finding. Police found crates of cocaine bearing more than 30 distinct logos, including prominent brands like Chevrolet, Louis Vuitton, and Tag Heuer. These logos were associated with the European criminal network expected to receive the illicit stash of drugs.

Big Catch

Spain cocaine bust
The huge consignment of cocaine seen after being confiscated by Spanish authorities Twitter

Law enforcement authorities refrained from disclosing the names of any specific organizations involved in the incident.

"This operation was an unprecedented blow to one of the world's most important criminal organizations in cocaine distribution, targeting major criminal networks in Europe," police said in a statement.

The criminal network operating in Ecuador possessed an extensive infrastructure for trafficking drugs to Spain. Their primary route involved shipping narcotics to the ports of Algeciras and Vigo, located in the northwest of Spain, by using the international banana trading company in Machala, the main banana port of Ecuador.

The criminal group managed to ship as many as 40 containers on a monthly basis, with certain shipments containing drugs, according to law enforcement officials.

The cartels concealed the drugs within boxes that were designed to hold 1,080 bananas each, as confirmed by Jose Carlos Arobes, a high-ranking representative of the Spanish tax agency.

The investigation was launched in July after police received intelligence regarding an incoming shipment of Colombian cocaine scheduled to arrive from Ecuador in August.

Extensive Operation

Spain cocaine bust
Spanish police seen stacking the 9.5 tons of cocaine they seized Twitter

After its arrival in Spain, the shipment was intended to be forwarded to Portugal. As of now, no arrests have been reported in connection with this case.

Before this recent shipment, the largest amount of cocaine seized in the country had been 8.4 tons back in 2018, and similarly, it was found in a shipment of bananas.

The raid comes two years after Ecuadorian authorities, helped by police sniffer dogs, detected $333 million worth of cocaine concealed among cans of tuna in two containers destined for Spain.

Ecuador National Police Commander Tanny Varela said that in June 2021, narcotic law enforcement agents seized a significant haul of 7.2 tons of cocaine during an inspection at the Guayaquil Maritime Port. This interception took place before the freight containers were slated for loading onto a ship.

At that time, the bust marked the most extensive interception ever conducted by authorities at the Pacific coast port.

"We have dealt a blow to criminal organizations in their illegal economy with (a loss of) $333 million, since a kilo of cocaine in Europe has an approximate cost of $55,000," Varela said.