But the hollow interiors, low prices, and high yield of these seasonal fruits can also make them a cheap and inconspicuous vessels for contraband.
This week, 383 pounds of cocaine were uncovered at the Port of Philadelphia stashed within the bowels of—you guessed it—a bunch of pumpkins. The pumpkins and their contents were found in a container on the M/V Santa Maria, which had arrived in Philadelphia from Costa Rica, and was headed for the Bronx.
Speaking at a press conference, John Kelleghan, a Homeland Security special agent, opened with a one-liner, claiming that the seizure was "not connected with the Pope's visit," Philly Mag reported.
But Kelleghan apparently got more serious when he started talking about the pumpkins. "The cocaine was expertly disguised in a shipment of squash and pumpkins, and because of the coordinated efforts of the law enforcement agencies you see here today, that it was found, seized, and never reach the streets of our country." Kelleghan added.
The bust was the result of a tip from the Drug Enforcement Agency, which issued a joint investigation with US Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations. "This seizure is a unique opportunity for us to actually show the public the efforts of that daily coordination," Kelleghan said at the press conference.
And if you think that this is the first time that pumpkins have been used for the importation of the coco, think again. Two years ago—on Halloween, no less—Canadian authorities seized nearly five pounds of cocaine in three pumpkins at Montreal's Pierre Trudeau airport.
And pumpkins aren't the only fruit being used to fool pesky narcs. In May, almost ten pounds of cocaine were found in two fake breadfruit, seized at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson airport. According to Canada Border Services Agency, the fake fruits were made with plaster, painted lime green, and stashed alongside 34 cardboard boxes and plastic bags of real breadfruit.
But in terms of volume, pineapples seem to be true favourite among traffickers. In May, 400 pounds of cocaine were discovered by Spanish authorities in hollowed-out pineapples originating from Central America, less than a year after they seized 2.5 tons of cocaine hidden among 2,296 Costa Rican pineapples in the very same port.