Kelowna grocers' cocaine banana shipment not a rarity globally

'Cocaine bananas' common

News broke this week that a pair of grocery stores in the Central Okanagan received millions of dollars worth of pure cocaine within a banana shipment back in 2019.

The find was shocking for the workers of the undisclosed grocery store, ostensibly a large chain with stores in both Kelowna and West Kelowna that received the shipment on Feb. 24, 2019.

But “cocaine bananas” are not uncommon, and regularly make headlines across the world.

In August 2019, all 144 Safeway stores on the American West Coast searched their banana boxes after three stores received large shipments of cocaine. In all, police seized 56 kilos, the largest seizure the King County Sheriff’s Office had ever seen. Those bananas were processed through the same central warehouse in Auburn, Wash.

Kelowna’s cocaine bananas originated in Colombia, RCMP said Tuesday, but did not reveal the shipments origins beyond that. Police believe the cocaine was not intended for the Okanagan, but was simply lost in transit.

Fruit and vegetable shipments are a common place for smugglers to hide drugs.

In November 2019, Italian port authorities seized 1,176 kilos of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas destined for Germany. The fruit had come from Latin America.

In 2018, a Texas prison received a shipment of $18M worth of cocaine with its bananas.

Similar seizures are frequent throughout the globe.

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