Last week, Peruvian customs officials, in the port of Callo, found more than a tonne of cocaine in three shipping containers packed with filets of giant squid about to be loaded on board a ship bound for Belgium. The cocaine was estimated to be worth $85 million.
One unusual aspect of the seizure was that roughly half of the cocaine packages were branded in the name of the Argentine football star, Lionel Messi, who plays as a forward for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. The other half of the cocaine was branded "King" with the the seal of the king of Spain. There is no indication that Messi or the Spanish monarch had anything to do with the cocaine.
The officials said that branding is a commonly used tactic by drug smugglers to ensure the quality of their product. Intricate art on packaging also is also used so that recipients of the large bricks can see that the packages were not tampered with.
This is not the fist time that Peruvian cocaine has been found packed in giant squid. In 2004, Peruvian authorities busted a shipment of 700 kg of cocaine hidden in frozen giant squid, bound for Mexico and the US. Peru is the second largest producer of cocaine in the world as well as the largest exporter of giant and Humboldt squid, referred to locally as pota.
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