Malta customs seizes 740 kg of cocaine hidden among bananas

VALLETTA, Malta — The customs department in Malta intercepted 740 kilograms (1,630 pounds) of cocaine Tuesday in a record-breaking drug seizure for the Mediterranean island nation, officials said.

The drugs, with an estimated street value of up to 100 million euro, were hidden in a 40-foot refrigerated container carrying 1,080 boxes of bananas, Customs Malta said in a statement.

The container was en route from Ecuador to Slovenia and was selected for screening while transiting through Malta Freeport, an international transshipment hub on Malta’s southeastern tip, the department said.

“The officials opened the reefer and started physically inspecting all boxes and, subsequently, elevated 740 packets of a white substance hidden in 37 boxes which gave a positive indication for high purity cocaine,” Customs Malta said. The packets carried a net weight of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) each and were concealed within the boxes of fruit.

Customs officials said the quantity seized exceeded Malta’s previous record haul late last year of 612 kilograms (1,350 pounds) of cocaine, which was hidden in pallets carrying cooking oil.

“This latest seizure is historical both in its size and in its street value, which has been estimated between 90 and 100 million euro,” Customs Malta said.

The case was handed over to the Malta Police Force for investigation. There was no information of any arrests.