NEWS

Drone packed with meth just latest in creative smuggling attempts

01/22/2015 03:51 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
Mexican police found a drone that had crashed in a supermarket parking lot after being overloaded with methamphetamine, the latest example of criminals getting creative in their attempts to smuggle contraband across borders and into prisons. 

Six packages of the illegal drug had been taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft, which fell out of the sky on Tuesday night near the San Ysidro crossing at Mexico's border with California.

Tijuana police spokesman Jorge Morrua said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border.

Nor is it the first time that criminals have turned to creative methods to sneak contraband through borders or into prisons — and it surely will not be the last. 

Although smuggling illicit drugs is no laughing matter, here are five similarly creative attempts that were discovered by the authorities. 

Pot catapult

U.S. National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system in Arizona witnessed several people preparing to fire a catapult from the Mexican side of the border in January 2011.

When authorities arrived, they found a three-metre tall catapult on a flatbed towed by an SUV approximately 20 metres from the U.S. An officer said it was capable of launching two kilograms of marijuana at a time. 

Soldiers seized the catapult, the vehicle and 16 kilograms of pot, but the smuggler left the area before they arrived. 

Pot cannon

Smugglers in Mexico used a pneumatic-powered cannon to launch cans packed with 38 kilograms of marijuana over the border near San Luiz, Ariz., in December 2012.

"We haven't seen this before," Kyle Estes, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman, said when the device was seized.

The plot was foiled when U.S. Border Patrol agents discovered the 33 pot-filled cans before they could be picked up by smugglers in an area about 150 metres from the border fence, on the United States side, Estes said.

Cellphones taped to cats

Guards patrolling a prison colony 1,000 kilometres northeast of Moscow saw a cat walking along a fence that appeared to be carrying something in June 2013.

They were able to nab the cat and found a few cellphones and chargers taped to the animal's belly. 

The incident followed a similar discovery in Brazil several months before where a cat was found with a cellphone, drill and small saws taped on its body. 

A prison spokesman was quoted by local media as saying all the prisoners were suspects, but the investigation was going to be difficult because "the cat does not speak."

Cocaine breast implants

Spanish authorities arrested a Panamanian woman in December 2012 at a Spanish airport after they discovered 1.38 kilograms of cocaine concealed in her breast implants.

Border police in Barcelona noticed fresh scars and blood-stained gauze on her chest.

The woman told officers that she recently had breast implant surgery, which police deemed to be suspicious. They sent her to a hospital where the implants were removed and the drugs discovered. 

Drug submarine

Colombian soldiers found a 30-metre fibreglass submarine powered by two diesel engines that authorities say was capable of hauling more than seven tonnes of drugs. 

The sub had "the capacity to sail totally underwater and the ability to travel to the coast of Mexico without surfacing," said Col. Manuel Hurtado, chief of staff of Colombia's Pacific Command, in February 2011.

The vehicle had room for a six-member crew and could submerge up to three metres deep with a five-metre periscope. 

Hurtado estimated the vessel had taken six to eight months to build and cost about $2 million US. 

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