WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Forty-five boxes of Dole bananas given to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice contained something else—540 packages of cocaine worth nearly $18 million.
- The unclaimed bananas were donated to the Wayne Scott Unit in Texas’ Brazoria County because they are already overripe.
- The U.S. Customs confirmed the substance to be cocaine, suspected to be smuggled into the U.S. from an undisclosed location.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice received a donation of 45 boxes of bananas on Friday. They were from Ports of America in Freeport, according to a Facebook post on the TDCJ page. They were donated because they are already overripe and no one is claiming the shipment.
Two sergeants assigned to pick up the bananas at the Ports noticed the difference in weight among the boxes.
“One of the boxes felt different than the others,” the TDCJ wrote.
They pulled free the box from a strap and opened it.
“Inside, under a bundle of bananas, he found another bundle!” TDCJ continued. “Inside that? What appeared to be a white powdery substance.”
The U.S. customs officials were alerted and tested the powder—it was cocaine. That launched a thorough examination of the whole shipment of bananas.
According to TDCJ, the officials discovered a total of 540 packages of cocaine with an estimated street value of $17,820,000. Photos on the Facebook post show the cocaine were all packaged in neat small boxes.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating the contraband. Officials have not released information regarding “where the shipment came from or who the intended recipient was.”
“Sometimes, life gives you lemons. Sometimes, it gives you bananas,” TDCJ wrote on its FB page. “And sometimes, it gives you something you’d never expect!”
But records show that concealing cocaine in banana boxes is a surprisingly a common occurrence. Here are just a few recent reports:
- The Spanish police discovered about 9 tons of cocaine in a banana shipping container in April which, according to The Associated Press, came from Colombia.
- In February, Albanian police also uncovered 1,350 pounds of cocaine in a banana shipment, also from Colombia, according to the wire service.
- Romanian authorities reported in July 2016 that they found some 2.3 tons of cocaine in a banana shipment from Colombia and other South American countries, the AP reported.
- In May 2015, 13 supermarkets in Germany received Colombian banana boxes containing cocaine, according to the BBC. Aldi supermarket chain also received a banana shipment filled with cocaine in January of that year.