Feral Hogs Find and Destroy Cocaine Worth $22,000 Hidden in Woods

A stash of cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in an Italian forest by a gang of suspected drug dealers was reportedly destroyed by wild boars.

Police dismantled the smuggling operation in Tuscany after placing a wiretap on members of the gang, which consisted of three Albanians and an Italian, The Local reported. While listening on a call, officials overheard a person complaining about the damage caused by the hogs.

Four suspects were arrested on drug charges after the bust, which left two members in jail and two under house arrest, Italian newspaper Il Tirreno reported.

The gang came to the attention of police during an investigation into the killing of a 21-year-old Albanian in May last year, the newspaper reported. The scheme allegedly funneled drugs from a supply channel in Perugia to various provinces, including Siena and Arezzo.

The drug stash was hidden in a forest area in the Valdichiana valley. The law enforcement probe, which spanned between September 2018 and March 2019, discovered one of the gang members was allegedly distributing drugs via a nightclub in Arezzo.

The suspects traded approximately two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of cocaine every month, which netted the gang the equivalent of between $90 and $120 per gram, Il Tirreno reported. An unknown number of boars allegedly dug up and destroyed the gang's packages, dispersing their contents in the woods.

It was not immediately known what happened to the curious animals.

But it's not just drug dealers outraged by the rising wild boar population in Italy. This month saw an unprecedented protest in Rome by farmers calling for action from the government, complaining the animals are to blame for land damage and road accidents, The Guardian reported.

"It is no longer just a question of compensation but a matter of personal safety and it must be resolved," said Ettore Prandini, president of farming association Coldiretti.

"Ministries and leaders of regions and municipalities must act in a concerted manner to draw up an extraordinary plan without administrative obstacles, otherwise the problem is destined to get worse," Prandini added. Officials said the numbers of wild boar in Italy, about two million, have doubled since 2015 and are responsible for about 10,000 road accidents every year.

The impact of wild hogs sparked a viral meme earlier this year after a Twitter user chimed into a discussion about U.S. gun control to ask to he could kill "30-50 feral hogs" without a firearm. There are currently more than six million feral hogs spanning at least 35 states in America.

wild boar
A picture taken on November 28, 2017 shows a wild boar at an enclosure set up by forest rangers in a northwestern district of Berlin. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty