Canada (VancouverSun) – Another batch of cocaine has been seized in a shipment
of fresh fruit from South America — this time in hollowed-out star apples.
RCMP announced Monday that police and Canada Border Services Agency investigators seized 20 kilograms of cocaine from a star apple shipment at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The star apples were part of a larger shipment from Guyana that included pineapples and mangoes.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Kevin Nicholson said there was no concern of the fruit entering the food chain. Much of it was “mush” by the time it arrived in Canada, he said.
The shipment raised flags because Guyana is not known to export a lot of fruit to Canada, Nicholson added.
However, a federal government website says that in 2008, Canada imported $225 million in goods from Guyana, including “precious stones and metals, beverages, mineral ores, fish and seafood, and fruits and nuts.”
Several Ontario residents were charged with drug-related offences: Susan Geneva O’Neil, 28, Basil Barnett Blair, 63, and Metussala Madela Mannings, 27, all of Toronto. Also charged was Kenneth Arthur Wong, 38, of nearby Ajax, Ont.
The seizure comes on the heels of an announcement late last month that authorities had seized 28 kilograms of cocaine — with an estimated street value of $3.5 million — in two shipments of hollowed-out pineapples from Guyana at the port in Saint John, N.B.
The drugs were discovered using X-ray technology and drug-sniffing dogs.
Now that authorities have caught on to the use of fresh fruit to smuggle cocaine, it is likely that suppliers will move on to another technique, Nicholson said.
In December, CBSA officials announced that 310 kilograms of cocaine — with an estimated street value of $14 million — had been concealed in a shipment of sunflower oil bottles from Bolivia.
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