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Cocaine seized in Malaga would have had a street value of more than a billion euros

The boxes of bananas among which the drugs had been hidden.
The boxes of bananas among which the drugs had been hidden. / SUR
  • Sixteen have so far been arrested after more than 6,000 kilos of cocaine were found hidden in shipment of bananas on Tuesday

The cocaine seized in an industrial estate in Malaga on Tuesday would have had a street value of more than a billion euros, police have confirmed.

Sixteen people have been arrested so far and a record amount of drugs seized in the police investigation that goes by the name of 'Operación Bananero' (or Operation Banana Man).

The more than 6,000 kilos of cocaine discovered by police in a unit on the Santa Teresa industrial estate in Malaga on Tuesday is the second largest haul to have been seized on land in this country so far, after the 8,740 kilos apprehended in Algeciras port in April.

As in the case of the haul in Algeciras, the drugs found on Tuesday had been hidden among a cargo of bananas, but this time they were found inside a warehouse in Calle Valle Niza in Malaga. The unit is said to have been empty and unused for years, but had suddenly been rented a week before the police raid.

As well as the drugs, it contained a refrigerated lorry, vans and a Chrysler Voyager people carrier. The cocaine, which would have had a value of more than 360 million euros on the black market (but more than a billion once cut and distributed on the street), is believed to have been brought to Spain by sea from a country in Central America.

Police raid

The investigation, which was carried out by several specialist Guardia Civil and National Police departments including anti-drugs and organised crime units, reached its peak on Tuesday. At 7am plain clothes officers forced their way into the warehouse, arrested about ten people and confiscated the drugs.

After that, everything happened very quickly. Approximately 30 other raids on properties were carried out in connection with Operación Bananero, and a further six suspects were arrested, bringing the total to 16.

Sources say the investigation is ongoing and more arrests may be made in the future. By the end of the investigation, they say, as many as 30 people may have been detained.