Bulgaria seizes cocaine smuggled in banana shipment

The cocaine was packed in bricks wrapped in metal foil and hidden inside a shipment of bananas

A warehouse worker has discovered 75 kilogrammes (165 lb) of cocaine hidden among bananas shipped from Ecuador to Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas, prosecutors and police said Saturday.

The drugs were packed in bricks wrapped up in metal foil and hidden inside the shipment of 20,626 boxes of bananas, Burgas regional prosecutor Georgy Chinev told journalists outside the Burgas warehouse of the InterCitrus fruit distribution company.

A warehouse worker came upon the 2.5-kilogramme packages on Saturday morning and alerted police, Burgas police chief Kaloyan Kaloyanov said.

Officials said the fruit arrived at Burgas on July 27 on a ship from Ecuador that also made a stopover in Italy.

Authorities will be checking other warehouses of the same fruit company in Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv in the coming days, they said, adding that some of the bananas had already been exported to Romania.

Romania and Bulgaria are considered key transit points for cocaine from Latin America on the smuggling route to western Europe.

But such busts at Bulgarian ports are unusual, with Kaloyanov saying that this has been the largest seizure in Burgas this year.

Similar finds of cocaine in banana shipments from South and Central America have been made in several European countries over the past year, including Ukraine, Poland and Spain.