WOODINVILLE, Wash. – More than $1.3 million worth of cocaine was discovered inside boxes of bananas delivered to three Safeway grocery stores in Washington. A special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed packages of cocaine were shipped to stores in Federal Way, Woodinville and Bellingham.
Sara Osborne, a Safeway representative, said, “We are working closely with federal law enforcement on this matter.”
Sgt. Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff’s Office said Safeway produce workers in Woodinville opened the delivery boxes. Underneath moldy bananas, Abbott said, the workers noticed packages wrapped in brown paper.
“The produce guy put his knife through it to see what it was and he found a white powder inside. He immediately thought it was narcotics and called 911,” said Abbott. “We carry these test kits with us and [detectives] were able to test the susceptive narcotics. And it tested positive for cocaine.”
Abbott confirmed the Safeway store was located on Woodinville Duvall Road.
“[Detectives] found out there were about 22 kilos of cocaine for approximate street value of about $550,000,” said Abbott.
The Bellingham Police Department confirmed a Safeway store on E. Sunset Boulevard received a shipment of the drugs in a box of bananas on Aug. 18. Officers said about 23 kilos of cocaine were discovered in the boxes. Investigators estimated value of the cocaine shipped to that location was worth about $550,000.
Federal Way Police Department said the DEA was investigating a shipment of cocaine inside banana boxes to its local Safeway store. Abbott said 11 kilos of cocaine were taken as evidence from the Federal Way store.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this. I know throughout the country this happens often. But, not actually making it into Safeway stores or any other grocery store,” said Abbott.
Abbott explained the street value of cocaine was worth about $25,000 per kilo. He said adding all three locations together totaled to $1,375,000. He said investigators are still working to determine where the drugs came from. He confirmed the shipment of bananas came from a central warehouse.
“We don’t know why it came up here. It’s a possibility a truck got rerouted or multiple trucks got rerouted and went to the wrong place and they were expected to be somewhere else. We don’t know that yet,” said Abbott. “The hope is that we can get to the bottom of it, but there’s also a possibility that we might not.”
The DEA said no arrests were made yet. U.S. Customs and Border Protections also got involved in the investigation to help determine where the drugs came from.
“It’s a complicated investigation. It’s definitely going to take a while,” said Abbott.