German Aldi workers find cocaine in banana crates

Police secure 140kg of drugs with street value of up to euro 12 million

Aldi supermarkets in Berlin had an unusual special offer this week. While customers perused the electric blankets, lightbulbs and frying pans on Monday, staff were surprised to discover about 140kg of cocaine hidden in just-delivered banana crates.

The first drugs parcels – containing between 40kg and 60kg each of cocaine – were discovered shortly after 8am on Monday by staff at a market in the northern neighbourhood of Reinickendorf. During the morning similar discoveries were made at three other stores across the city and one in neighbouring Brandenburg.

Police were called to secure the drugs with an estimated street value of about €12 million. Initial tests showed they contained 55 per cent pure cocaine but police stressed some of the parcels could be up to 90 per cent purity.

"We think that it was intended for export as 140 kilos in one go is too much for the Berlin market," an unnamed criminal investigator told Berlin's BZ tabloid.


It is the second largest find of drugs in the history of the German capital. Police have launched an investigation and said they were working under the assumption that the bananas, which arrived on a ship from Colombia to Hamburg, were misdirected from their intended destination.

Instead, the 1,150 crates were shipped first to Berlin’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market and then on to the Aldi supermarkets.

“You usually only find such a large quantity of drugs at an international port,” said a police spokesman of the find at a press conference yesterday.

“Now somebody somewhere has a big problem.”

Hamburg is a popular European entry port for drugs from overseas. A man is currently on trial in the port city accused of concealing 500kg of cocaine in wooden briquettes from Paraguay.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin