Crime & the Law

Heavy jail terms imposed on Colombian drugs cartel smuggling cocaine into Britain in fake bananas

Fake bananas used to smuggle millions of pounds worth of cocaine. Image: Met Police

Fake bananas used to smuggle millions of pounds worth of cocaine. Image: Met Police

Jail sentences totaling 59 years have been imposed on members of a Colombian drugs cartel who smuggled millions of pounds worth of cocaine hidden in fake bananas.

The sentencing took place at Southwark Crown Court on Monday (30th March).

The police believe the operation involved importing over 100 kilos of cocaine worth around £24 million.

The three men sentenced

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Police arrested the men after a consignment of bananas from Colombia arrived at Dover on Tuesday morning 8th July 2014. The story was covered on as an example of the good police work being done.

The cargo was delivered by lorry on the 10th July to a locked up warehouse at the Oast Park Trading Estate in Hartlip, Kent.

The warehouse was under observation by detectives from the Special Projects Team, while their colleagues continued to monitor other members of the criminal network in London.

The lorry driver was not part of the network.

On the same day Hernandez-Gonzalez, Grisales-Cuervo and Jaramillo met at an internet café in Stockwell.

They are believed to have accessed instructions relating to the assignment via email.

They were also being watched and were arrested half an hour later as they left the café.

When the cargo of bananas was searched, detectives found 105 kilos of cocaine compressed and packed in plastic bananas concealed within the fruit.

The recovered drugs had a wholesale value of £6.4 million, with an estimated street value of around £24 million.

Analysis of the cocaine found it to be of 98 per cent purity.

Officers also seized £290,000 of cash which was linked to Hernandez-Gonzalez.

Cash, drugs and bananas

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Detective Inspector Paul Foreman from the Special Projects Team said:

The arrest and conviction of these individuals serves to show that the Metropolitan Police will not tolerate the distribution of Class A drugs which has such a harmful effect on London’s communities.

These individuals were part of a sophisticated, well-organised and determined criminal network capable of masterminding and resourcing this complicated international smuggling operation and sustaining it over a long period. The evidence shows that this unit has disrupted and dismantled what was a well-oiled, large scale operation.

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