Lifestyle & Belief

9 creative ways to smuggle contraband across borders


A Border Patrol agent searches an undocumented immigrant apprehended near the Mexican border on May 27, 2010 near McAllen, Texas.


Scott Olson

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have figured out how to smuggle their sperm out of prison, using in some cases potato chip bags and candy wrappers. This is true, and it works. At least seven women have conceived children using the sperm. See GlobalPost's story about it today.

Smugglers are always working to be one step ahead of the border police. In some cases, they have gotten seriously creative. Here's some of the most impressive attempts.

1. Cigarettes in logs

Romania border patrol recently stopped a train smuggling more than 70,000 cigarettes near the border town of Vicşani. Romania is no stranger to cigarette smuggling, in 2012 alone more than 9.7 million packs were confiscated. This particular bust, though, baffled border police as the cigarettes were stored in hollowed out logs.

2. Cocaine submarine

Gone are the days of trafficking coke in Cesnas. Cocaine smugglers went high tech a long time ago. But in 2008, the US Coast Guard finally caught the big one. For years authorities had heard rumors of drug smuggling subs but were unable to catch one. When they finally found a sub off the coast of Costa Rica, US Coast Guards agents named it “Bigfoot” because of its elusive nature and the belief that it was all just a myth.

3. Marijuana cannon

In March of this year, authorities near the border city of Mexicali found dozens of small canisters of marijuana scattered across a field near the Mexican border. The method of delivery: an air-powered cannon. Attached to a truck like an anti-aircraft gun, the cannons were able to shoot the cans 500 feet across the border. Crafty drug cartels can make the cannons out of plastic, and they power them by repurposing old car engines as air compressors.

4. Man as car seat

Don’t knock them for creativity. In 2012, Spanish immigration officers at the border of Melilla, a Spanish territory in Northern Morocco, detained two Moroccans and a 20-year-old Guinean man. Initially police just noticed two men in the passenger and driver’s seats, but upon closer inspection they found the trio had the Guinean man disguised AS the car seat.

5. Cocaine cast

In 2009, a man attempted to smuggle 4.8 kilograms (10.5 lb) of cocaine into Barcelona in the form of a cast. Authorities arrested the 66-year old Chilean man — whose leg genuinely was fractured — in Barcelona’s airport after determining that the white cast on his left leg was made of cocaine rather than plaster. Police suspect the injury may have been intentional, as an excuse to wear the coke-laden cast.

6. Cat phone

Following 2013 New Year’s celebrations in Sao Paulo, Brazilian police stopped this not-so-subtle cat before it entered prison grounds with cell phones and accessories taped to its body. The idea inspired copycats all over the world. Just last month Russian authorities detained another feline felon.

7. Cocaine oranges

A 76-year-old Dutch man claimed he needed the extra suitcase full of oranges for his vitamin C deficiency. Italian police arrested him in 2009 on international drug trafficking charges when they discovered he had replaced the oranges' pulp with $6.6 million worth of cocaine.

8. Cocaine breast implants

In December of last year, a Panamanian woman coming from Bogota, Colombia was stopped in Barcelona’s airport for suspicious behavior. Authorities searched her and found bloody bandages underneath her breasts. When she failed to explain, they took her to a hospital where doctors promptly opened her up. They found that her “fresh breast implants” actually contained nearly 3 pounds of cocaine — more than $100,000 worth. Gives new meaning to the phrase “drug bust.”

9. Monkeys in socks

38-year-old Roberto Cabrera was baffled when police stopped him for wearing a girdle full of Titi monkeys. Cabrera claimed he paid $30 for each monkey in Peru and could have sold each for more than $1,000 in Mexico. The 18 monkeys had been stored on Cabrera’s person as he wanted to “protect them from the X-rays.”