When you combine contraband, poverty, desperation and lots of spare time, you get the bizarre world of the smuggler.
Everything from cocaine to human beings is waiting to cross tight borders into lands where they're not welcome. And wherever you find them, you find an army of smugglers using every ounce of their creativity to get them through.
Also, it appears quite a few of them are insane.
Smuggling drugs in completely safe and structurally sound factory-made vehicles is for cowards. Real smugglers climb into leaky, rusty homemade submarines to bootleg their cocaine.
These things aren't just a couple of steel drums welded together, though. They've found subs in Colombia and Mexico big enough to carry up to 11 tons of drugs. The cops seized a partially-built sub that had hydraulic tubing, a protected propeller, a double hull and the ability to dive below 300 feet. It makes mom's attempts to smuggle opium in her wooden leg look sad by comparison.
Costing from a few hundred thousand to millions of dollars, the subs are usually crewed by small teams, have ranges of around 5,000 nautical miles and generally carry several hundred million dollars worth of drugs per trip. If you're wondering how you convince a drug mule to get inside one of those things, we're guessing they figure that with 11 tons of drugs in there nobody will notice if, at the end of the trip, a little comes up missing.
"Missing cocaine? No, I'm as shocked as you are."
Of course smuggling human beings across borders is a whole different ballgame. After all, it's not like you can just stuff a whole person in the glovebox.
We stand corrected.
A few years ago, customs officials at the US-Mexico border stopped a car and requested to see the registration. Being trained in the fine arts of observations, officials noticed something suspicious: a fully grown, 135lb woman jammed in the dashboard, looking out through the glove box.
Arguably more stupid, there's also photographic evidence of a man who inserted himself into a car's upholstery in an attempt to disguise himself as a captain's chair. Another passenger was sitting in the seat and the entire car was hoping today was the day customs officials were holding their annual "Bring A Retard To Work Day."
Elsewhere in the universe, some people have attempted to smuggle humans--specifically a woman and her 3 year old daughter--in the gas tank of a Dodge Caravan. If you've never been in a gas tank of a Dodge Caravan you may be surprised to learn it's exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds, which is to say: still better than public transit.
Easily half of the Cracked audience is too young to remember prohibition. These days we're lucky enough to wake up and pour Southern Comfort on our Lucky Charms before shitting ourselves and passing out in the kitchen until sundown. But in some countries folks still have to rely on the kindness of smugglers to get their blinding fix.
Police recently discovered a vodka pipeline connecting Russia to Estonia, indicating at least one Russian thought the Beer Baron episode of the Simpsons was a reasonable basis for a business endeavor.
Don't worry, he's on the case.
The pipe, over a mile long, ran under a reservoir and pumped somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600 gallons, some of which was confiscated by officials in Estonia (where vodka is far more expensive than in Russia).
The booze pirates managed to avoid paying $72,000 in excise duty before they got caught, which they probably just spent on fuzzy hats and borscht.
You know how sometimes when you're freebasing vaseline and cloves and you think to yourself "Man, if only this had some kind of rotten vitriol from the insides of a corpse on it, this would be way better"?
Other people have thought that too. And so they've saved the day by jamming dead bodies full of cocaine so you can get both high and gangrene at the same time.
"Hey, you're not a dead cop, right? You'd have to tell me if you were."
In Africa, a handful of people were arrested for shipping a couple pounds of cocaine inside the stomach of a corpse they said was a body being returned home for burial.
It seems like a more clever excuse would have been to claim that the coke was part of their traditional burial ritual, in which no man is sent into the afterlife without enough blow to get him through the boredom of eternity.
Totally part of the ritual.
Craftiness is key when it comes to tricking people in the smuggling game, which is why when the opportunity presents itself to disguise banned steroids as gay sex lube, you have to jump on that pony and ride.
That's how over 150 bottles of illegal steroids were discovered in Thailand, literally labeled "gay lube oil."
You may ask yourself why, if trying to disguise a clear liquid, you would choose to specify it as sex lube, of all things. And then you may go on to the bigger question of why they would have to be specific "gay" lube on top of that. The easy reply would be, "Because it's Thailand." But cultural sensitivity tells us it's better to just leave it unanswered.
To run an efficient drug operation you really need someone with a background in chemistry on hand, just so you don't end up producing lethal pop rocks when you're trying to make crack. And since the dude is on staff anyway, you may as well put him to work on a clever way to hide the drugs once they're ready to be shipped out to lawyers and politicians across the globe.
Some smugglers have used a process to mix cocaine with silicone to make something that looks like fabric. That however was not enough to fool the drug-sniffing dogs, who quite frankly don't care what the drugs look like.
"I'm telling you, dude, your partner is made out of coke."
But then we have the ones who've begun processing cocaine into Plexiglas, to make clear plastic products like DVD cases and fish tanks that, if you were to chew them, would get you high before they shredded your insides.
Admittedly, there's an equally clever chemical process for getting the drugs back out of the plastic once they've arrived, but who's going to wait around for that?
"Cocaine Jesus" both describes the method this smuggler chose, and probably the new nickname everyone gave him for thinking of it.
In Texas, border police stopped an elderly Mexican woman with a seven-pound statue of Jesus in her trunk. Drug-sniffing dogs took a real interest in the statue, but authorities didn't find any cocaine hidden inside.
"Sorry boy. Not everything is filled with cocaine."
That's because the statue was cocaine. It had been molded out of plaster mixed with the drug.
The lady had been paid a whopping $80 to bring it across the border (by comparison, if the mixture of the statue was just 50% cocaine, that's a $200,000 coke statue).
We don't know how exactly they intended to get the drugs back out of the statue once it made it to the destination. All we know is if one day you find yourself grinding up the head of Jesus so you can snort it, it's probably time to reevaluate your life.
If, after reading that, you're disgusted by the drug industry, then prepare to have your mind blown in The 5 Greatest Things Ever Accomplished While High. Or check out how drunks can be just as creative in James Bond Boozing: 10 Amazing Flasks for Undercover Drunks.