What do smugglers like to do besides smuggle things?
What they really like to do is smuggle two different entities together in the same shipment for one nifty price. Think of them as the ultimate savvy shopper.
What kinds of things? you might ask.
Well, all sorts of things but in this particular case, drugs and wildlife.
Think that sounds weird? Trust me, it gets even weirder. In fact, it’s a dirty little secret that authorities don’t like to talk much about. The strange part is the way in which it is done. The perfect example is a case called Operation Cocaine Constrictor.
Miami International Airport takes on a surreal quality after midnight making it prime time for smugglers. This is when numerous containers of reptiles and fish are flown in. The reason is simple. There are never enough inspectors around. That means illegal shipments are found in two different ways—either through luck or due to a tip. Face it, how many inspectors really want to jam their hands into a box of five-foot-long wriggling snakes without good reason? However, word had it Columbian drug smugglers were using live animals for their shipments. The FWS inspector knew this when 41 containers of live boa constrictors arrived one evening.
He removed the first snake and immediately saw a bulge. Either the reptile had recently eaten or something was amiss. X-rays revealed four cocaine-filled condoms had been stuffed into its body.
DEA and FWS agents decided to reseal the shipment and follow its delivery. What better way to find their prey?
Sure enough, a man arrived later that day and loaded the containers of snakes into a van. The agents tailed him to an apartment building where the van was parked and the mystery man disappeared. They waited all afternoon, through the night, and into the following day but the perp never reappeared with his partners in crime. Meanwhile, south Florida continued to do what it does best—bake everything in sight to a nice toasty state of perfection. That included the van filled with snakes.
The agents finally broke into the van and found all 312 boas either dead or dying, 223 of which contained condoms filled with cocaine. The upshot? Eighty pounds of cocaine was seized and no suspect ever arrested.
Okay, maybe drugs can be smuggled in snakes but tropical fish? Don’t be ridiculous.
Oh yeah? Think again. Haven’t you heard of liquid cocaine? Or how about implanting heroin-filled condoms inside large gold fish? Don’t scoff. It’s actually been done.
Condoms with cocaine and heroin have even been lodged inside racehorses brought back-and-forth across the Mexican/U.S. border.
What is it with condoms and drugs, anyway?
Let’s not forget about heroin packed inside the shells of live snails and hidden in elephant tusks.
Then there are those stories with happy endings. Such was the case with an Old English sheepdog shipped from Bogota, Colombia to JFK International Airport. A Customs inspector noticed what appeared to be a sick pooch in a crate and quickly investigated. An examination revealed ten condoms, containing five pounds of cocaine, had been surgically implanted in her belly. Peritonitis had already set in and she was on her last legs. Fortunately, her life was saved.
The 22-year old genius that came to claim the dog wasn’t so lucky. He received three years in prison. Personally, I think it should have been much more.
So, what’s the happy ending? The dog, nicknamed “Cokey,” served as official mascot at the Customs Service’s Canine Enforcement Training Center for 14 months. Since then, she’s retired to a life of leisure having been adopted by the Customs inspector who first spotted her.
I love a sappy ending.