Strange fruit | 

Montenegrin police seize one tonne of cocaine hidden in banana shipment

The cocaine was seized in a village near the port city of Podgorica, the country’s capital.

Montenegrin police with packages from the seized cocaine shipment in Podgorica. Photo: Montenegrin Police.

Esther McCarthy

Police in the Balkan state of Montenegro seized a massive 1,200 packages of cocaine in a shipment this weekend, making it the largest haul on the country’s history.

The drugs were hidden in a shipment of bananas and weighed over a tonne in total.

The cocaine was seized in a village near the port city of Podgorica, the country’s capital and largest city.

Montenegro has long fought against a growing drugs trade mainly driven by two rival gangs, Kavac and Skaljiri. The battle has been ongoing since 2015 and over 40 people have been killed as a direct result of the conflict.

The country’s geographical position also makes it a target for smugglers trying to reach lucrative markets in Western Europe.

Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said it was the largest drugs haul in the country’s history.

“We promised that Montenegro will not be country of organised criminal groups. Congratulations to the police forces and Customs office,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Balkan crime gangs are active in trafficking drugs from Latin America to Western Europe and some of them have grown into large global networks. Europol estimated Balkan gangs are behind at least 30 per cent of the cocaine trafficking from Latin America to Europe.

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