Safeway employees at three different stores in western Washington made a surprise discovery on August 18, 2019, when they went to unpack boxes of bananas. Employees at a Bellingham Safeway discovered packages of cocaine in the bottom of a box of bananas and immediately called the police. King County Sheriff officers say 22 kilos of cocaine were found in Woodinville, and 23 kilos were found in the Bellingham store. A third shipment of bananas sent to a Federal Way store also contained cocaine. Officials say that the cocaine is valued at $1 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration is now investigating.
The distribution center for these Safeway stores is outside Washington and distributes to 144 different stores along the West coast. It was not known where the bananas originated from. Bellingham police said, "This appears to be a case where someone at a shipping port either got the wrong shipment from Central America or let cocaine slip through the U.S. port for fear of getting caught."
Fake Bananas in Spain Contained Cocaine
In March 2017, Spanish officials discovered cocaine was being transported in fake bananas packed with real bananas in Valencia and Malaga. In total, 17 kilos of cocaine were found in the fake bananas as well as in the flaps of the cardboard boxes carrying the bananas. Two men were arrested and charged with drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organization.
Washington Law on Drug Trafficking
In Washington, just as it is in the rest of the country, it is illegal to transport or traffic controlled substances such as cocaine. According to Washington law RCW 69.50.401, “It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance.”
A conviction for a cocaine-related VUCSA crime is almost always a felony crime. Possessing, manufacturing or possessing with intent to distribute cocaine is a Class C felony. The penalties for a Class C felony conviction include the following:
- A maximum fine of $10,000,
- A prison sentence of up to five years, or
- A combination of these two penalties.
Someone convicted of a cocaine-related offense will also face probation, mandatory drug counseling, and community service. A felony conviction will remain on a person's record for life and could make it difficult for them to find housing, secure a job, or attend school.
VUCSA Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know is facing a drug-related charge, you need an experienced attorney to defend your rights and keep you out of jail. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor so he understands how the law works. He understands Washington's drug laws and will help you come up with the best possible defense to your charges. Call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi at 206-621-8777 or use a contact form today to get a free consultation of your case.