Bulgarian authorities seized half a ton of cocaine from Colombia, hidden in two trucks carrying citrus fruits, the country’s interior ministry announced on Sunday.
The drug was hidden in 6,700 boxes of fruit, with between 80 and 100 grams in each box, amounting to a total of “approximately 500 kilos” said Interior Ministry Secretary-General, Ivaylo Ivanov. The market price is € 22 million wholesale, Ivanov said. He specified that according to the information available to the ministry, the drug is of extremely high purity.
The shipment reached Europe by sea, and then Bulgaria by land. Most likely, the drug is intended for the Bulgarian market, leading investigators to believe that it “indicates the existence of an international drug trafficking route.”
Two men, whose companies were listed as recipients of the cargo, were remanded in custody and have been charged with “participation in an organised crime group for cocaine trafficking from Colombia to Bulgaria.” One of those arrested is a former director of the Sofia Customs Agency.
Bulgaria and neighboring Romania are considered key transit points for cocaine from Latin America to Western Europe.
In November 2019, Italian police seized almost 1.2 tonnes of cocaine in a cargo of bananas that originated from South America, making it the sixth largest seizure in Italian history.
According to EU’s judicial cooperation agency Europol, on a global scale the cocaine business is worth at least 300 billion euros a year with an estimated total production of around 2,000 tons. Some 700 tons of which ends up in Europe, while the most of the rest goes to supply the North American market.
A recent Europol report revealed that in 2019 28, 585 kilos of cocaine, were intercepted in Europe, along with 9, 224 kilos of heroin and 41, 283 kilos of cannabis, while 2, 686 people were arrested for drug trafficking in the EU last year.