LISBON ( Associated Press) – Police in Portugal said Thursday they found just eight tons of cocaine hidden inside a shipment of bananas from Colombia.
Police said the cocaine was hidden in the hold of three consignees, which docked in Setbal, a port about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
According to police, the ships made regular Atlantic crossings and cocaine was shipped to several European countries.
The seizure happened in recent weeks, police said, but did not give a specific date in a statement.
Although large seizures of cocaine are not uncommon in Portugal or the rest of Europe, police said it was one of the largest so far in the country. The drugs have an estimated local street value of over 300 million euros ($315 million).
According to the statement, Europe is currently the world’s largest market for cocaine.
So far this year, police in Portugal have confiscated just over 12 tonnes of cocaine, a nearly 23% increase from the previous year.
The EU police agency Europol and other European police forces cooperated in the operation.
Meanwhile, police in northern Portugal say they have worked with the civil guard in neighboring Spain to dismantle an alleged criminal network that was building powerful speedboats for Spanish gangs.
Boats are used to transport drugs, usually hashish, from Morocco to Spain and Portugal. Spain banned such ships four years ago in an effort to crack down on smuggling.
According to a statement, Portuguese police seized 21 speedboats in various stages of construction, while Spanish police arrested 72 people.
In addition, on Thursday police in southern Spain said they destroyed a drug smuggling ring and seized 1.2 tonnes of hashish hidden in a factory warehouse.