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Often dubbed "the world's most popular fruit," the banana is quite versatile. Who knew it could help smuggle cocaine? And not just a small amount. At a prison in Texas, banana boxes were used to smuggle $18 million of cocaine.Prison Officials Go Ape Over Bananas
Corrections officers were unloading 45 boxes of ripe bananas donated to the Wayne Scott Unit in Texas when one noticed something odd. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, "They snipped the straps, pulled free the box, and opened it up. Inside, under a bundle of bananas, he found another bundle! Inside that? What appeared to be a white powdery substance." When all was said and done, they had discovered 540 packages of cocaine worth about $18 million.
Bananas have become a smuggler's paradise of late. In 2017, Spanish officials found 15.4 pounds of cocaine hidden inside 57 fake bananas coming from South America. Another 22 pounds were hidden inside the cardboard box flaps. That same year, 847 pound of cocaine were found by German police inside a banana shipment from Ecuador, though found in the packaging and not in the bananas themselves. This was close to a record for German officials, but not quite. In 2015, German officials found 850 pounds of cocaine inside banana boxes, which was worth an estimated $16.7 million at the time.
Perhaps cocaine and bananas are a marriage we should have anticipated. The main suppliers of bananas to the U.S. are Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Honduras. According to the U.S. State Department, most of the cocaine coming into the U.S. is made in Colombia, but comes through Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The overlap makes exporting all too easy.
Drug trafficking, which is the unlawful selling, transportation and import of illegal drugs, is a felony. Penalties range from three to five years, to life in prison, depending on a host of factors such as the type of drug and geographic area of distribution. It's highly likely that $18 million worth of cocaine into a prison could qualify for life in prison, if the culprit is ever found.
Drug trafficking charges are no laughing matter, no matter what the amount or the location. If you or someone you love is facing drug trafficking charges, or any other drug charges, contact a local drug crime attorney to discuss your case and learn about your options moving forward.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.