Czech authorities will incinerate over 600 kilograms of cocaine found in banana shipments

The street value of the drugs, which were allegedly travelling from Ecuador to the Netherlands, is estimated at up to CZK 5 billion. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 15.08.2023 16:49:00 (updated on 15.08.2023) Reading time: 1 minute

Czech authorities announced that over half a ton of recently discovered cocaine that was illicitly packaged in a distribution center will be incinerated. Over the weekend, employees at a Central Bohemian warehouse operated by retailer Albert discovered a total of 646 kilograms of cocaine concealed amidst crates of organic bananas. The cocaine's total street value is estimated at up to CZK 5 billion.

From Ecuador to mistake?

"The shipment [of the drug] to the Czech Republic was headed from Ecuador via the Netherlands, and it is possible that there was a 'logistic error' on the route, when someone in the Dutch port did not have time to pick up the cocaine from the shipment," stated spokesperson of the Czech National Drug Control Center Lucie Šmoldasová.

After undergoing expert analysis, the narcotics will be burned. Czech criminal investigators, Europol, and Interpol are working together to identify the sender and intended recipient of the shipment.

Sky-high prices

Determining the precise street value of the seized drugs is a challenge due to the complexities of distribution and the gradual dilution of the substance. However, due to its South American origin, experts estimate the cocaine's purity to be around 80 to 90 percent.

This purity level significantly affects its market value, with direct purchases from drug cartels averaging approximately USD 5,000 (about CZK 110,000) per kilogram. The price escalates to roughly EUR 30,000 (CZK 723,500) per kilogram after transportation to Europe and transactions with local dealers.

Street-level cocaine sales typically involve dilution, resulting in doses ranging from 10 to 50 percent purity. This leads to varying prices, ranging from CZK 1,000 to CZK 5,000 per gram, according to the Czech National Drug Control Center. A projection from Šmoldasová indicates that if the entire 646 kilograms were divided into individual grams for distribution, the potential revenue could reach between CZK 2 and CZK 5 billion. 

The quantity of cocaine found in the Central Bohemian warehouse constitutes one of the largest consignments ever seized in the Czech Republic. Albert has stated that it played no role in the smuggling of the drug.

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