In a strongly-worded statement, GreenLand Group denies company’s involvement with the illicit trade
Greenland Group, the owner of Colombia’s Banacol, has issued a statement denying accusations that the banana company has been complicit in drug trafficking.
It follows allegations by Vorágine – which describes itself as an “independent and counter-current media organisation from Colombia” – and the Organised Crime And Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), that Italy’s powerful Ndrangheta mafia group sent tonnes of cocaine to Europe concealed in containers of Banacol bananas.
Vorágine said its investigation had revealed that the Italian authorities sent two letters expressing suspicions about the participation of the Banacol in drug trafficking operations to the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office (CPO). They concerned three seizures of cocaine that together amount to 3,455kg, made between 2020 and 2022. It also accused Banacol in being involved in a cocaine shipment to the port of Antwerp in 2016.
Vorágine said that while “there is no evidence that Banacol had knowledge of the cocaine hidden in the shipments of its bananas”, a European police source consulted for the investigation noted that the CPO had been “reluctant” to investigate the claims.
Vorágine said this resistance formed part of a wider pattern of failure by the CPO to investigate former executives from Banacol and other banana companies for funding paramilitary groups.
In its statement, issued on 7 November, GreenLand said Banacol has always worked with the authorities to act against drug trafficking and to ensure that its operations are carried out in strict compliance with the law.
“However, in spite of all the measures and investments made to guarantee a sending secure cargo to the markets, the company has been a victim of the scourge of drug trafficking, just like all other exporting companies, and it is not acceptable under any circumstances, to accuse the company of carrying out illicit actions, especially like these accusations which have caused so much harm to the country,” the statement said.
“Banacol has not been investigated by any national or international judicial authority for drug trafficking-related crimes, as some publications are insinuating. “
With respect to the accusations of Banacol’s alleged funding of paramilitary groups, GreenLand said: “Banacol is not and has not been linked to any criminal process related to this issue. The process that began in 2008 was carried out against some individuals who now have no relationship to Banacol.
“However, their culpability has not been demonstrated, and we are certain that they will be able to vindicate their innocence, in an eventual trial. Currently, other officers related to other Colombian banana companies are being investigated”.