The stash of coke was hidden in hollowed-out books inside bags that boasted the UN’s blue emblem.

According to reports, the sacks were shipped from Mexico, but when parcel sorters in Ohio couldn’t find an address on them, they forwarded them to the UN instead.

New York Police Department deputy commissioner Paul Browne told AFP: “It is my understanding that because there was no addressee, the DHL just thought well that’s the UN symbol so we should ship it on to UN headquarters and let them figure out who it was supposed to go to.”

Staff identified the bags as fakes as they were the wrong colour and material to be an official UN bag. That in itself triggered a security alert at the New York HQ.

“It was not a diplomatic pouch. That I can say categorically,” UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

NYPD is working on the theory that the bags might not have been meant to leave Mexico in the first place.

Deputy commissioner Browne said: “Somebody in Mexico is probably in trouble now having let a significant amount of cocaine out of their possession.”