A police dog detects 2700 kg of cocaine hidden in a banana shipment.

According to police in Italy, customs officers using a police dog discovered more than 2,700 kilos (about 3 tonnes) of cocaine hidden in 70 tonnes of boxed bananas shipped from Ecuador.

If the cocaine had reached its final destination in Armenia, police estimated that it could have brought traffickers more than 800 million euros ($900 million) in street sales.Police dog sniffs out 2700 kg cocaine hidden in banana shipment

Customs police became suspicious about two containers on a cargo ship that recently arrived at the port of Gioia Tauro, in the “toe” of the Italian peninsula and a stronghold of a ‘ndrangheta organized crime clan.


Police dog sniffs out 2700 kg cocaine hidden in banana shipment

Police told Italian state radio that documents and a background check indicated the shippers of the bananas weren't in the business of moving that much fruit.

Police dog sniffs out 2700 kg cocaine hidden in banana shipment

Officers used scanning machines and the dog, named Joel, to uncover packets of cocaine hidden in boxes stacked meters-high in container trucks.

Joel leaped high and eagerly when the officers opened the back doors of the truck, and furiously hit the unloaded boxes with his paws to try to move the bananas aside, police recounted.


Of the drugs were not detected, the containers with the cocaine would have continued through the Mediterranean to a Black Sea port in Georgia for eventual transport to Armenia, authorities said.

The Gioia Tauro port, one of Italy's busiest, has long been under the watch of anti-Mafia investigators because of its proximity to towns where the ‘ndrangheta has bases. The crime clan is one of the world’s most powerful cocaine traffickers.


Since the start of 2021, and including the latest seizure, customs police at the port have intercepted and seized a total of 37 tons of cocaine, the police said.

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