Instead of finding coffee beans inside Nestle’s coffee bean bags, workers at the Nespresso factory in Romont, Switzerland, discovered more than a half-ton of cocaine.
Staffers unloading bags of coffee beans that had arrived in five shipping containers from Brazil last week encountered an unidentified white substance, the New York Post reported.
Once the police were called, they discovered that 80 percent pure cocaine was in one of the containers of coffee bean bags.
Authorities said the 500 kilograms — about 1,100 pounds — of cocaine was worth approximately $50.5 million, Reuters reported.
Nespresso said the cocaine did not contaminate any of its products.
“The substance in question did not come into contact with any of our products or production equipment used to make our products,” the company told Reuters in an emailed statement.
“As a police investigation is underway, we cannot share more details,” Nespresso said. “We want to reassure consumers that all our products are safe to consume.”
Police suspect that the cocaine was meant for European distribution.
“It’s definitely a big seizure for the canton of Fribourg, one can say an extraordinary catch,” Marc Andrey, head of security for the region, said, according to the Post.
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While many think of cocaine as a fading drug of the past (associated with the 1980s and the wars on drugs), the cocaine trade is still massive today.
Cocaine might not have the power of opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, which have been running rampant, but it is still a huge factor in drug addiction and overdose deaths all over the world, particularly since it often comes hand in hand with opiates and other substances.
In this specific instance, the cocaine that was found was 80 percent pure. But the average powder a user will get is nowhere near that strong.
Once the drug is laced with other substances and hits the streets, buyers are getting only about 20 percent to 30 percent pure cocaine, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine.
So that one shipment of highly purified cocaine found by Nespresso was on its way to being sprinkled all over Europe.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that “in recent years, the European drug market has been experiencing an increase in both the availability and the purity of cocaine.”
“[T]he majority of the deaths related to cocaine also involved other drugs, typically opioids,” the group reported.
Likewise, in the United States, cocaine is still a major problem.
In 2020 and 2021, cocaine deaths increased, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Cocaine is still a very valuable drug on the market as well.
Depending on location and purity, 1 kilogram (just over 2 pounds) of cocaine can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $45,000 in the United States, ARK Behavioral Health reported.
In Europe, street prices for cocaine can be even higher. In France, for instance, a kilo costs about $74,000, according to Statista.
While the seizure of the drugs in Switzerland was a nice catch, it barely scratched the surface of the ongoing cocaine trade all around the world.
It’s good news to hear that none of the cocaine made it into Nespresso’s coffee, but it’s troubling that a half-ton of highly purified cocaine got as far as it did.