Swiss police seized more than a half-ton of cocaine worth roughly $50 million hidden in Nestlé coffee bags at a Nespresso factory in western Switzerland this week.
Workers at the Romont, Switzerland, factory first notified authorities about an “undetermined white substance” found in the massive truckload of bags on Monday, the Guardian reported.
Police later determined that the mystery substance was cocaine and revealed that the dangerous and addictive drug had been found in not one, but five shipping containers that arrived at the factory on the same day.
The total product seized amounted to 500 kilograms, or 1,102 pounds, worth an estimated market value of 50 million Swiss francs. One U.S. dollar is currently equal to 0.9871 Swiss francs.
Investigators reportedly set up a secure perimeter to isolate and test the drugs, with customs officials present for the testing.
Nespresso made clear in a statement to Reuters that “the substance in question did not come into contact with any of our products or production equipment used to make our products.”
The secret cocaine shipment arrived from Brazil, police said, adding that the substance was determined to be more than 80% pure.
“It’s definitely a big seizure for the canton of Fribourg, one can say an extraordinary catch,” said Marc Andrey, head of security for the region, according to BBC News.
“It appears that all of the drugs were destined for the European market,” authorities added in a statement, though declining to offer more detail until further investigation could be completed.
Nespresso, too, was unable to offer much more detail as of Friday morning.
“As a police investigation is underway, we cannot share more details. We want to reassure consumers that all our products are safe to consume,” the coffeemaker said in a statement.
Bloomberg commodities expert Javier Bias said that sales in physical commodities markets, like coffee, can be very difficult to trace, making the police’s work extremely difficult.
“If you are trading on the financial market, you are buying oil futures or options, all of those trades are registered somewhere. There is a trade repository,” Bias said in a recent podcast. “On the physical market, you could buy oil, metals, agricultural commodities, and you do not have to disclose anything.”
It’s part of the reason why drug traffickers often use commodities to send covert shipments.
Nespresso, an operating unit of the Nestlé Group based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is widely known for producing espresso machines and single-use coffee containers. Its products are popular in Europe and in the United States.
Cocaine found in coffee at Nespresso factory in Switzerland