Costa Rican shipment smuggles in cocaine worth €20 million

For customs officials in Setúbal, it was ‘just another day at the office’. An alert to check on a shipment of purported Costa Rican bananas that came in overnight on Wednesday in a surprisingly quick container ship turn-around. The tip-off revealed a lot more than bananas. Concealed among the packed fruit were 10 sports bags holding a total of 350 kilos of cocaine, purportedly worth around €20 million.

So far there have been no arrests, say reports, as work now has to be done to check who actually sent the shipment over and where it was ultimately headed.

Investigations haven’t been helped by the fact that the ship that brought the drugs into Setúbal’s Terminal Multiusos 1 is long gone.

Says Correio da Manhã, the ‘Cala Pedra’ was flying an Italian flag and appears to have set out from the Puerto Moin.

The quantity of cocaine on board suggests the drug was destined for a number of European countries, the paper adds.

According to Jornal das Notícias, this was “the second time in three months that cocaine has been found on a ship belong to the same line of services that delivers weekly to Setúbal port.

“In December, after unloading a container full of narcotics, including cocaine, authorities tracked another boat and made arrests on Spanish soil”, said the paper.

It is not clear why the service line in question hasn’t been halted. The Cala Pedra, according to online magazine Ship2shore, is owned by an Italian “giant in the distribution of fruit and vegetables”, the ‘GF Group’ – also known as the Osero Group – which has around 1,500 employees around the world.

GF’s shipping subsidiary Cosiarma is the company that runs Cala Pedra and sister ships Cala Pula, Cala Palma and Cala Pino.

As we write this text, the Cala Pedra is still apparently on its way to Italy.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com