5 Real Drug-Smuggling Schemes (That Went Hilariously Wrong)
As far as cunning and guile are concerned, we tend to hold drug smuggling to a higher standard than other criminal activity. Unlike lazy, gauche crimes like murder or arson, it takes real brains and know-how to keep an illegal empire running the way El Chapo or Walter White did. And while that's absolutely true sometimes, there is no entrance exam to be a drug dealer. Any idiot can give it a shot, and many idiots frequently do.
Two Scarface Wannabes Try To Buy Cocaine With Emeralds
Juan Soberon and Marin Spariosu needed some money, and they needed it fast. And historically, one of the quickest ways to make cigarette-boatloads of cash is flipping cocaine. So they met up with a supplier at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, because sometimes drug deals look like shitty Tinder dates. They arranged to be the primary dealers for 15 kilos of snow, which was valued at around $28,000 per kilo, or roughly 18 months' pay working at Buffalo Wild Wings.
"First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the half-price Mango Habanero."
Now, you may be wondering how these two up-and-comers managed to pull together enough money to buy into that much cocaine. The answer, of course, is that they didn't. What they did have was a bunch of stolen emeralds from the jeweler Spariosu worked for. Apparently, they paid very close attention to the "Diversify Your Investments" course at Crime School, but fell asleep during the "Don't Buy Coke Like A 17th-Century Pirate" class.
Feeling giddy that they'd gotten this far in their new scheme, they went out to repair the sailboat they were planning on using to head to Europe to sling some powder. However, the "supplier" they'd met with at B-Dubs was in fact an undercover DEA agent, because of course he was. After receiving the emeralds, the agent had Soberon and Spariosu tailed and arrested.
They needed a lot more than two months' salary to make bail on this one.
Spariosu agreed to cooperate with authorities and wear a wire while he talked to the original owner of the emeralds, who was also in on the scheme. He led authorities to making another arrest, this time in a Carrabba's parking lot, because it seems every major deal in the drug world must be conducted within 15 feet of a chain restaurant.
An Airport Trafficking Ring Was Brought Down By A Guy Going To The Wrong Terminal
When you're getting involved in illicit activity, you need airtight plans. Usually, those plans involve staying away from high-security areas, but one bold team of Los Angeles International Airport TSA screeners knew a golden opportunity when they saw one, and decided to start a trafficking ring. They would accept generous payments from smugglers to allow their drug mules to pass through airport security carrying pounds of product. After all, LAX is a trash palace in a garbage kingdom -- who's going to notice a bunch of people walking around with a shitload of drugs?
Oh, right. Them.
One such mule was a guy named Duane Eleby, and he managed to ruin the whole thing for everyone in less time than it takes to buy a macchiato from the Starbucks in LAX. Eleby was carrying ten pounds of cocaine -- the equivalent of a large baby -- hidden in his luggage, and was supposed to meet one of his TSA hookups, Joy White, at Terminal 6. According to the plan, she would allow him through terminal security before spiriting him away through a secret tunnel leading to Terminal 5, where Eleby's plane would be set to depart. This is a seemingly idiot-proof set of instructions, but Duane Eleby proved to be somehow worse than an idiot and went directly to his departure terminal.
Granted, Eleby did what any normal human being would do and went to the terminal that was listed on his ticket, but it's as if he suddenly forgot he was smuggling a mountain of cocaine through an international airport and was really looking forward to his trip. Eleby was met by an actual, non-crooked TSA screener, who presumably reacted with a rich cocktail of professional alarm and hilarious disbelief when they saw that Eleby was casually holding all of the drugs in the universe in his luggage. Predictably, Eleby and his stash were reported to the authorities, who arrested the shit out of him.
Duane Eleby is like all of us -- desperate to get the fuck out of the airport, no matter the consequences.
Recognizing that Eleby was badly exploiting a legitimate problem, federal agents staked out the airport and started watching the TSA screeners for a while. Over the course of six months, this intrepid Mile "High" Club helped smuggle cocaine and amphetamines through airport security five different times, ultimately leading to the arrest of seven people. All because one doofus went to the wrong gate.
Speaking of airport security ...
Traffickers Hide Cocaine Inside (Hideous) Breast Implants
If there's one thing about airport security that's made people uncomfortable over the past decade or more, it's the idea that TSA screeners can see you naked. They can't (anymore), but that fear is still there in a lot of people, and it was only a matter of time before someone attempted to exploit that fear in an illegal drug smuggling plot.
Basically, security policies are strict about what can and cannot go on a plane, but you the passenger are pretty much the one thing that TSA has to let board. So some intrepid smugglers in various parts of the world reasoned that you could probably get away with bringing drugs onto a plane if they were hidden inside your body. And what body part looks like it could hold a few pounds of freeze? Boobs. By stuffing drugs into breast implants and putting those implants inside willing mules, slipping by a bunch of awkward (and probably underpaid) TSA screeners should be a piece of cake.
And you thought having to take your shoes off was a pain in the ass.
The problem was that, in most cases, the "surgery" fell somewhere between "disfigurement" and "ritual mutilation." Airport security in Madrid busted one woman after noticing that she had "certain irregularities and deformations in both breasts," which is another way of saying she had four freaking pounds of coke stuffed inside them. Officials were tipped off by her fellow passengers, who were complaining about her erratic behavior, a noted symptom of having four freaking pounds of coke inside your chest. Another woman strolled off a plane in Barcelona with her implants still bleeding, which, being not terribly inconspicuous, made border patrol officers suspicious (they could also kind of see the cocaine in patches through her skin).
This looks like a water balloon fight at Ed Gein's house.
In both cases, the smugglers were rushed to the hospital, where their implants were removed by a gently concerned doctor and handed over to the least enthusiastic evidence tagger in history.
Smugglers Try To Drive Over A Border Fence, Get Stuck In Mid-Air
Smuggling contraband on the ground is a little more straightforward (yet no less tricky) than via air travel. For example, people looking to sneak drugs and/or humans across the U.S./Mexico border are often able to go completely around border patrol agents either by using one of the more than 150 underground tunnels or by building crazy Inspector Gadget Drugmobiles that can drive right over the goddamned fence with built-in ramps. Of course, sometimes you don't have a map of the underground tunnels, or the money to afford an expensive ramp-laying car, so you do your best to build a makeshift bridge to carry you over the fence and wind up getting stuck on top of the freaking thing like a shipwrecked tugboat.
"Dude, turn off the stereo. Maybe they won't notice."
Border patrol agents in Yuma, Arizona couldn't help but notice the Jeep as they made their rounds early one morning, and the two yahoos struggling to free it from its prison quickly ran back into Mexico before they could be detained to answer some seriously burning questions about their evening.
The Dickheads Of Hazzard.
The two had used couple of half-assed metal ramps that couldn't properly support the weight of their Jeep Cherokee enough to get the back end over, resulting in them getting stuck embarrassingly in the air like a turd on a flagpole. They managed to unpack the car before being discovered, so we will never know the exact nature of their spectacular misadventure, but at least we have the photographs to pass on to future generations.
Unlabeled Drug Shipments Are Mailed To The UN, German Grocery Stores, And The Pope
There's a general understanding that when someone wears a shirt that says "Death Star Swim Team," that shirt should not be mailed back to the Death Star should it be discovered in the Lost & Found. However, nobody informed shipping company DHL of this concept, because when someone dropped off a bag emblazoned with the logo of the United Nations but containing no destination or return address of any kind, they went ahead and forwarded it to the United Nations headquarters in New York. Nobody knows for sure where exactly the bag was meant to be sent, but opening it made it clear that a major mix-up had occurred somewhere down the line.
"What's in the bag!? What's in the baaag!!??"
The bag held 35 pounds of cocaine, which was stuffed inside hollowed-out notebooks and then inexplicably dropped off at DHL without any instructions. According to a UN spokesperson, their best guess is that someone figured they could get the cocaine across the Mexican border by disguising it as official UN mail, but they either didn't properly execute Phase II of that plan or simply forgot to conceive of one. And the NYPD figures that DHL sort of sent the bag along without questioning its mysterious appearance or checking its contents to let the UN figure out who was supposed to get it. This is how anthrax gets mailed to public officials.
This isn't the first time poorly planned shipping resulted in mass quantities of illegal substances ending up at inappropriate places. One German supermarket chain keeps finding cocaine hidden in crates of bananas. The two incidents together resulted in the largest amount of illegal drugs ever seized in Berlin, although why the hell they were sent to over a dozen grocery stores is a mystery that has yet to be solved. The probable explanation is that they were meant to be intercepted somewhere in transit, and were either overlooked or sent along to Germany by oblivious dockworkers who had no idea they'd technically become international criminals. And recently, a whole batch of condoms inflated with liquid cocaine were sent to the goddamn Vatican. The packages were addressed to the Vatican post office, but for obvious reasons, no name was written anywhere on them. Police seized the condoms at the airport and then sent an undercover cop to the post office to try to catch whoever came to pick them up (because surely this was meant to be intercepted by a third party, and wasn't Amazon fulfilling one of the Pope's Wish List orders), but nobody ever showed.
Good luck convincing the Pope to lift the condom ban after this debacle.
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