Lead image by Brian Blomerth
Whoever said drug smuggling can’t be artistic just hasn’t met any creative drug smugglers. Since President Nixon sparked the War on Drugs in 1971, many have gone to prison for being a part of a supply pipeline, but demand remains strong. Even today, the black market is alive and well — including in states with legalized marijuana. So as time has passed, and crackdowns have ebbed and flowed, the US has witnessed a wide variety of smuggling attempts, many of which were so over-the-top that they wouldn’t even fit in a Cheech and Chong flick. That said, ambitious would-be smugglers have started thinking more and more outside the box in recent years. Sometimes, maybe they’re a little too creative. People have flown drugs into prisons, catapulted them over walls, and even shoved them where the sun don’t shine. Here are some of the most half-baked weed smuggling schemes of all time.
Drug Catapult (February, 2017)
Last February, border patrol agents seized two bundles of marijuana that were literally catapulted across the Mexican-American border. Border agents noticed numerous people beating a hasty retreat on the Mexican side of a border wall during their patrols. When they got closer, the agents found two packages of weed totaling forty-seven pounds on the US side of the border. When Mexican officials arrived on the scene, they found a catapult system literally built onto the border fence.
Marijuana Cannon (February, 2013)
February is a great month for lovers, and also a great month for weaponized devices used to launch drugs across the border. In 2013, a cannon — made from a “a plastic pipe and a crude metal tank that used compressed air from an old car” — was used to launch weed from Mexico into California. Some of the packages that made it to the US were estimated to weigh up to thirteen kilograms. Apparently, the marijuana cannon is not a unique concept: border agents claim they have recovered a number of them over the years. Don’t worry if you aren’t very handy. You can just use a t-shirt cannon instead.
Marijuana In the Munchies (2014)
Chicago Police discovered an unusual condiment on submarine sandwiches entering into the infamous Cook County Prison earlier this year. So far five police officers have pled guilty in connection with a scheme to get marijuana inside the prison by putting it on subs. The latest officer connected with the scheme, Stephanie Lewis, copped to using legal databases as means of locating and intimidating Officer Jason Marek, who was considering putting a stop to his sandwich smuggling. Marek smuggled the marijuana in by replacing the Italian beef and gyro meat inside of local “Jim Shoe” sandwiches with weed. Federal officials estimate that an ounce of marijuana can go for up to $1,000 in prison.
Cool Pigeons (January, 2011)
In criminal circles, pigeons usually have a negative connotation. But, in 2011, enterprising inmates proved that crime is truly for the birds. Prison officials near Bucaramanga, Colombia found a carrier pigeon trying to clear a prison fence, weighed down by a bag. It turns out the bag contained 40 grams of marijuana and 5 grams of cocaine: too much for the little guy to carry to his destination. According to local police commander Jose Angel Mendoza, “We found the bird about a block away from the prison trying to fly over with a package, but due to the excess weight it could not accomplish its mission." Don’t worry animal lovers, the pigeon found a happy ending: he was put in the care of a local ecological police unit.
14 Carrot Green (January, 2017)
Smugglers often try to hide marijuana and other drugs inside of shipments of legit goods. Fans of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad know all about this thanks to Los Pollos Hermanos. Smugglers with a creative flair will sometimes take it step further and transport drugs inside these products. Last January, BPD agents working at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge crossing searched a truck that they were pretty sure was carrying some illicit cargo. After several searches, they found what they were looking for: “2,817 carrot-shaped packages of alleged marijuana which carry an estimated street value of $499,000.”
Make an Ass Out of Your Grass (February, 2009)
Though we’ve never seen a donkey statue before, apparently, they are one of many of the exports that come our way from Mexico. In 2009, customs officials found that a 40 foot crate of cement donkey statues contained $1.5 million in marijuana hidden inside. Yes, the donkeys were being used as mules. 1,800 pounds of weed were spread across 200 statues. The crate was headed to an address for a fake business in Fontana, CA when customs intercepted the lawn ornaments, and fifteen arrests were made in connection with the case shortly thereafter.
Our Lord Most High (November, 2014)
These donkeys are not the only statues to serve as ganja receptacles; a plastic statue of our Lord and Savior has also been used to sneak some sanctified sticky-icky across the border. Customs agents in Kentucky found $20,000 worth of weed hidden in a statue of Jesus Christ during a routine inspection of the cargo hold at a DHL facility. An x-ray inspection revealed that our Lord was the one blessing the joint with the smell of kush.
Weed Chair (April, 2011)
While we all know someone with fake handicap tags, there are other ways people have tried to fake disabilities in order to get a very real advantage. In 2011, border officials were tipped off when a 19-year old man in wheelchair started acting nervous at a crossing near San Diego. They quickly found five pounds of marijuana hidden under his seat. Not only did the young man lose $10,000 of weed, but his bail was promptly set at $35,000.
Piñata So Obvious (November, 2012)
It’s hard to think of a more obvious way to sneak drugs into the country than stuffing them in piñatas. After all, they are literally built for hiding treats inside. That didn’t stop 24 year-old Tucson resident Juan Marcelo Armstrong from attempting to smuggle over 400 pounds of marijuana into the country inside of a truck full of piñatas. To Armstrong’s credit, he didn’t put the weed inside the piñatas; he actually built a false wall to hide the marijuana. The piñatas themselves were just a colorful distraction.
Courtroom Drama (October, 2011)
It’s a pretty dumb idea to try to sneak weed under a cop’s nose, but how about a judge? It turns out this is equally stupid. A father-son team of criminals schemed to smuggle weed into prison via a courtroom exchange. The father, Kurt Meyer, was already doing time for robbing a church (class act). The son, Dylan Henderson, planned to slip his old man some weed during his hearing. The duo were foiled even before Henderson stepped foot in the courthouse. Their scheme was overheard by officers monitoring prison phones. When he was on the way to his father’s trial, officers were already waiting for Dylan to slip up. Henderson swallowed the marijuana before he got to the courthouse door, but he still went to jail for the offense thanks to recorded phone calls.
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