Supermarket staff discovered the containers with a total of 140 kg
of cocaine on Monday shortly before the fruit went on sale to the
public, police and customs investigators said.
It was the largest discovery of cocaine in Germany's capital in
about 15 years and has an estimated black market value of 6 million
euros, according to police.
"We were of course surprised," senior police officer Olaf Schremm,
who heads the local drug investigation department, told reporters.
"I don't know where the mistake was in the perpetrators' delivery
The banana cartons, part of a consignment of 1,134 boxes, were
brought by ship from Colombia to Hamburg and delivered to a fruit
wholesaler in Berlin. Cocaine was found in seven of them, Schremm
The boxes were eventually delivered to five supermarkets in the
Berlin area, but investigators said the intended destination of the
cocaine was unclear.
Masked officers in bulletproof vests showed the seized boxes to
media. The cocaine will be stored and eventually destroyed.
Drugs are often smuggled in container ships from South America to
Europe, the police said, adding that it is very difficult to keep
track of thousands of containers which are stored in the port of
Hamburg for only a short time.
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"At the end of the day, it's beyond one's control," Schremm said.
German authorities say drug smugglers use air mail or couriers to
import cocaine more often than ships. In 2012, investigators seized
1.26 metric tonnes of cocaine in total.
(Reporting by Thomas Seythal; editing by Madeline Chambers and Mike Collett-White)
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