$85m Messi-branded cocaine seized


Peru drug law enforcement yesterday seized 1,417 kilos of cocaine with logos that bear a photo of Barcelona star Lionel Messi as well as his name, found wrapped in containers of squid filets and destined for Belgium.

The drugs were worth an estimated $85 million in street value, Peru officials said in a news release.

Many packages of the drugs bore the likeness of Messi and his name, while the rest were wrapped in black packaging with a logo saying “King” with a likeness of the king of Spain.

A spokesperson for the Peruvian National Police’s Anti-drugs Office (Dirandro) said that no one has been arrested or detained yet.

“Most of the 1,288 packages of drugs were camouflaged as squid filets and had a label that said ‘Messi’ along with a picture of the Argentina player Lionel Messi wearing the shirt of the Spanish club Barcelona,” the news release said.

The logos are used to guarantee the purity of the drugs by the gangs who traffic them, the official said, as well as guaranteeing that drugs, which are packaged in bricks, remain sealed.

The shipment was found over the weekend after arriving in Lima over land and headed west with a final destination as the port of Callao.
This is the second major police intervention this year, the news release said.

In January, Peruvian police found more than 4,508 pounds of cocaine worth $174 million in street value hidden in packages of asparagus destined for Amsterdam. The group arrested was part of an international drug-trafficking network that shipped cocaine to European countries.

Peru is believed to rival Colombia as the world’s largest producer of coca leaves, from which cocaine is made. Dirandro officials said they believe cartels from Mexico operate in their country and use their distribution networks to send the drugs to Europe and the United States.