Drugs Disguised as Food: 13 Craziest Examples
If you’ve been keeping a close eye on our news feed, you know we’ve posted quite a few articles about fascinating airport seizures. Here’s your next fix of the sweet, sweet airport drama.
We’ll start you off light with a something you’d expect to happen. We’re sure you’ve heard that concealing drugs in coffee grounds, peanut butter, or spices is believed to confuse sniffer dogs and help you smuggle drugs past them. It’s actually a total misconception - what we don’t understand is that dogs have an uncanny ability to separate smells. So even if you think you’re ‘concealing’ one smell with another, a dog can smell them both and identify them as separate entities.
Here are a couple people who didn’t get the memo:
A traveller at the San Jose Airport was discovered with a little package of marijuana lodged inside a container or peanut butter. Even though the amount of it is relatively small (compared to some entries in this article), it could still be detected in his luggage.
12. Heroin in coffee:
Three bags of roasted, ground coffee arriving from Guatemala to the Miami International were found to be filled with more than 3 pounds of heroin. With the suspicion drawn to them by sniffer dogs, customs officials first confirmed the anomalous bags by noting their heavier weight!
FYI, if distraction of K-9s is your goal, apparently the only effective technique would be another animal, prey, or food. This article suggests that you’d have most luck at distracting a sniffer dog by spraying your whole vehicle or container with hunting lure smells of foxes, rabbits, deer, and other game.
Although, the food distraction doesn’t work so well on the X-Ray machines & border personnel:
Another traveler was so focused on tricking the sniffer dogs; he totally forgot that the packages of cocaine stuffed into chunks of frozen goat meat could easily be spotted on the X-Ray machine. Customs agents at the JFK International Airport found more than seven pounds of cocaine in his luggage, with a street value of anywhere between $1.2 million and $1.8 million, depending on purity.
It’s not that rare of an occurrence: a San Jose passenger was also arrested after nearly three pounds of cocaine was discovered in his checked baggage wrapped inside a package of raw meat.
Public Domain - taken by a US government employee
In January 2016, officers in Pharr, Texas came across a massive shipment of fresh carrots from Mexico. The imaging was a little off, and upon closer examination the border personnel found nearly 2,500 pounds of marijuana wrapped in orange plastic, simulating the appearance of real carrots. Almost 3,000 of those ‘weed carrots’ were found in the shipment, enough to fill two full truck beds with them ! The estimated street value of the seizure is around $500,000.
In 2015, the same check point at the Pharr International Bridge, the border security intercepted another shipment of drugs – this time marijuana and cocaine – hidden among carrots and cucumbers. With 165 pounds of cocaine and 2, 600 pounds of marijuana concealed within the vegetables, that bust was worth almost 2 million dollars! These smugglers were a little cruder with their methods and simply scattered square packages of drugs among the vegetables. So with the more recent simulation of carrots, you can really see the drug-trafficking evolution at work.
9. Cocaine bananas:
A fruit wholesaler in Kent, England was found to be storing a massive shipment of cocaine in his otherwise legitimate warehouse. Having followed one of the key suspects in the delivery of the drugs, the police raided the place and found 100 kilograms of high-grade cocaine wrapped and packaged in the shape of bananas. With a 90% purity, the estimated street value of the drugs is 24 million pounds (almost CAD$40 million).
What makes this particular story interesting is that the pallet of cocaine was hidden among 30 other pallets of real bananas, and neither the delivery man nor the fruit vendor knew which pallet contained the drugs. When the time was right, someone from the Columbian cartel sent a message with a coded number of the pallet, as well as a diagram for where to find it. The authorities say that the bust was made by deciphering the code and following the ‘treasure map.’
Bananas, for some reason, seem to be a pretty popular disguise for massive amounts of drugs. Polish police had their own record-breaking bust of 27 million USD worth of cocaine hidden within a shipment of bananas from Columbia. 178 kilograms of the 90% pure cocaine was seized from a Polish truck-driver arriving from Belgium.
In 2013, another 265 pounds of cocaine was discovered by Russian customs scattered within banana boxes. The 110 cocaine bricks were apparently the third cocaine stash, shipped from Ecuador in banana crates intercepted that year. A similar bust was also made in Denmark, when a Supermarket was surprised to find its banana shipment from Colombia was 220 pounds heavier than expected.
If there’s a part of you sitting there judging the drug smugglers as silly low-lives, I hope you know that smugglers come in all shapes and sizes – some of them are even royalty!
A 55-year old Nigerian Prince, Adegbenie Olateru-Olagbegi, was stopped at London Heathrow Airport with a massive amount of onions, shrimp, and pungent dried fish in his luggage. Evidently, he was trying to fool the sniffer dogs and conceal the smell of the 3.21 kilograms of cocaine in his bag. But as you know, it’s not that easy to trick them – apparently Max the Sniffer Dog instantly caught a whiff of the drugs, as soon as the Prince walked through the ‘Nothing to Declare’ gate.
Seventeen hollowed-out onions containing £163,000 worth of cocaine (around CAD$270,000) were discovered in his luggage, but the prince of course denied any knowledge of them. Due to his status in Nigeria, he had an easier time walking right past security in Lagos, and evidently didn’t expect much scrutiny in London either.
During the trial, the Prince noted that his father is king to 450,000 subjects in Owo in southern Nigeria, and he, himself has 149 siblings - as if to impress the court into a more lenient sentence. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. What’s interesting is that Prince Adegbenie Olateru-Olagbegi was involved in a lot of anti-drug work in Nigeria, promoting good behaviour and Christian values among young men. He ran for office, and led several companies. It might even be the same Prince that’s been sending you emails about needing to send large amounts of money to your credit card.
7. Hashish melons:
In 2013, security personnel at the Spanish port of Algeciras made a massive bust. A suspicious truck driver arriving from Morocco was claiming to be hauling melons. Upon closer examination, the police discovered a staggering 32.38 tons of hashish, worth an insane 65 million dollars.
While this particular discovery might seem pretty mind-blowing, it’s not even the biggest drug bust made in Spain. As you may have read in our article on Impressive Drug Smuggling Attempts, Spain remains the main gateway into Europe for Moroccan hashish, and the police regularly make large seizures. The record hashish seizure for Spain is a bust from 1996, when 36 tons were seized from a boat, leading to the arrest of 23 people. In 2012, Spain intercepted a total of 325.5 tons of hashish, which as outrageous as it seems, was down 8.5 percent from the year before.
The largest haul of hashish recorded elsewhere was from a bust in Afghanistan - in June of 2008, the anti-narcotics police seized 237 tons in one shipment alone.
While bananas are a popular smugglers’ choice, apparently there’s also a close second.
Massive shipments arriving from Central America are always under a lot of scrutiny, and this one was no different. Ten large containers of pineapples were examined by Spanish police - more than 400 pounds of cocaine were discovered hidden inside hollowed out pineapples. Cleverly, they were also filled with a yellow wax that simulated pineapple pulp.
5. Meth Burrito:
A woman was walking through the US-Mexican border in Arizona, and the border personnel got suspicious of a plastic bag she was carrying. For being just one little person, she appeared to be packing a lunch of several burritos – which seemed to be a little too heavy. Upon closer examination it was discovered that she had a whole pound of meth (worth about $3,000) wrapped into a burrito, hidden among regular ones.
Apparently that’s not very weird either – at the same checkpoint, a person was once caught with a stack of heroin-filled tortillas, and another smuggler tried to sneak in drugs inside a bag of McDonald’s burgers.
4. Liquid drugs:
If you’ve seen our previous articles on Ridiculous Drug Smuggling Attempts and Impressive Cocaine Trafficking, you’re no stranger to the fact that cocaine can often take a liquid form for ease of smuggling.
A few people chose to take that option, though it didn’t get them very far. A traveler at New York’s Kennedy Airport was found 6 bottles of oil and vinegar that had a suspiciously chemical smell. You guessed it – it was 11 pounds of dissolved cocaine, with a street value of $194,000.
Another attempt was by Chris Lewis, a famous former English cricket player, who was caught with several large tins of fruit and vegetable juice in his cricket bag. Unsurprisingly, the juice was mostly cocaine, and when evaporated would have yielded 3.75 kilograms of pure product (worth about CAD$230,000).
Another honorable mention goes to the guy at the Kennedy Airport, trying to pass security with a bottle of rum that appeared too thick and syrupy. While it’s too easy to insert a predictable rum and coke joke here, a similar smuggling attempt turned out to be fatal. A cunning smuggler passed off two such ‘loaded’ bottles to a couple of travelers, under the pretense of having exceeded his luggage limit. After the drugs had been successfully brought into the UK the smuggler was held up by customs, and long story short – one of the bottles ended up in the wrong hands.
Since the carrier of the bottle was completely unaware of its lethal contents, she gave the bottle as a gift to a generous taxi driver. The following day, having taken a shot of the ‘rum,’ the taxi driver died of a cocaine-induced heart attack. After his funeral, his grieving relatives drank a toast from the same bottle, and had to be rushed to a hospital. The man responsible for the whole thing was caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
3. Cocaine Syrup:
A mother and daughter returning from a presumably lovely trip to Spain were going through the security check at the LAX Airport. They were carrying bags of chocolate syrup and vinegar that felt unusually thick and heavy to touch. Upon closer examination, the customs officials had discovered that the packages of condiments contained more than 10 pounds of cocaine paste – a viscous substance extracted from coca leaves, before it’s dried and ground into the user-friendly white powder sold on the streets. What a weird way to spend family bonding time.
2. Drugs in candy:
You’d be surprised just how many drugs are smuggled as candy. For all of you who automatically remembered the voices of your parents and the PSAs telling you about not taking candy from strangers – worry not, these guys would not be giving away theirs.
US customs officers at the Orlando airport in Florida spotted a “jittery” man who “was sweating profusely” and appeared very nervous. His luggage was inspected, and the security personnel found 172 lollipops that for some reason appeared too heavy. When one was unwrapped, it became evident that each of the lollipops was just a thin saccharine layer covering a ball of condensed heroin powder. Altogether, the police confiscated a staggering 3.2 kilograms of heroin from this Guatemalan man. Just to put things in perspective for you – one gram of heroin is worth at least $110 on the streets of US, giving that shipment a value of over $320,000. No wonder he was sweating bullets.
If you think that’s impressive, check out this story. After long investigations, the DEA in Atlanta made a huge bust – they found boxes of Mexican De La Rosa candy that appeared suspiciously heavy. When they did a little more digging, they found that the candy was also just a thin shell covering a pressed ball of drugs. In total, there were 50 kilograms of meth and 14 kilograms of heroin encased in these saccharine disguises, amounting to a roughly $8.1 million value on the streets.
US Customs and Border Protection have also made another discovery: two days before Christmas, a man at the LAX airport was found carrying a large bag of Easter eggs. Reportedly, that was the only thing that drew attention to this man – Easter eggs on Christmas. Exactly as you’d expect, the eggs were full of cocaine – 14 pounds to be exact, with a street value of roughly $100,000. Note to self: if you’re ever trying to smuggle massive amounts of drugs as candy, make sure that type of candy is currently in season.
We could go on and on with the list of drugs in sweets, but we’ll just mention a couple more: check out this woman who tried to smuggle half a kilo of meth carefully wrapped to look like Ferrero Rocher chocolates, this man with 4 pounds of individually wrapped meth-chocolate bars, and this fun attempt at smuggling $60,000 of cocaine as stuffing in vanilla wafers.
Of course, now that we’ve opened up so many options, you might feel a little indecisive about what foods to put your drugs into. As any investment specialist might advise you, it’s always best to diversify your assets. At least that’s what one American man returning from Peru thought: he had stuffed 10 pounds of cocaine into various food products: from powdered drinks and coffee to a full-on nougat cake.
Although he really overdid it with the 88 Oxycodone pills.
If this is the kind of thing you’re into, check out our other articles including the Silly Border Seizures, Ridiculous Drug Trafficking Attempts, Most Shocking Airport Seizures, Crazy Animal Smuggling Stories, and the Cool Weaponry Confiscated By Border Security.