Agents tracing half-ton shipment of cocaine hidden in bananas

Greek drug enforcement agents were working with their European peers on Thursday in a bid to ascertain the exact route and destination of a large shipment of cocaine that was found in crates of bananas from Latin America.

A fruit merchant on the southeastern Aegean island of Rhodes on Wednesday alerted authorities when he found 265 kilograms of the narcotic in plastic-wrapped packages hidden among an order of bananas. Investigators traced the order to a warehouse at Tavros in Athens, where an additional 250 kilograms of the drug was discovered in crates belonging to the same shipment.

According to investigations so far, the shipment originated in Colombia, a major cocaine producer, and arrived in Greece via Costa Rica.

The cargo, which was registered to a Milan-based company, made its way to Lisbon and then to Italy, where it went through customs before being loaded onto trucks by a fruit import-export company for delivery to various wholesalers in the European Union and Greece.

Investigators also believe that the drugs ended up in Greece after a mix-up, possibly in Italy, and that the wholesalers are not involved.

The Italian importers have denied any knowledge that the drugs were in the cargo.

Greek authorities are trying to trace all cases of the shipment that have already been distributed in order to check whether they contain any drugs as well.

They are also working with their counterparts in Portugal and Italy to find out who the shipment was actually intended for.

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