Prison contraband is like currency. If you've got anything of value, from drugs to cigarettes, you've got something to trade. And if you've got a cell phone, you can keep running your criminal empire. So as prisons crack down on stuff getting smuggled in, inmates have had to find more and more creative ways of doing the smuggling.
Jails around the world have seen everything from contraband-carrying crossbows and hollowed out Bibles, to carrier pigeons and coloring books. All of them have been carefully rigged to carry forbidden items and not get caught. Of course, they all WERE caught - and their creativity (or lack thereof) was displayed for the world to see.Here are some of the craziest (failed) ways people have tried to smuggle stuff into and out of prisons.
Cigarette-Carrying CockroachesPhoto: Public DomainLong before Orange is the New Black featured a cockroach trained to smuggle cigarettes, industrious inmates in Amarillo, Texas had figured out how to do it. In 1938, two prisoners in solitary confinement were getting their hands on cigarettes, much to the consternation of the jailer. It took another prisoner snitching to finally reveal the secret - they'd taught a cockroach to carry a smoke and a match on its back and scurry through a crack in the wall leading to the solitary block. The jailer was so impressed by the inmates' ingenuity that he released them from solitary.Is this unbelievable?
A Specially Bred Escape CatPhoto: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
On New Year's Eve 2012, officials at a prison in Brazil spotted a cat with a veritable arsenal of escape tools taped to it. The kitty, which was a familiar fixture in the prison yard, had two saws, two drills, a headset, a memory card, a cell phone, three batteries, and a mobile phone charger all tightly wrapped around it. Brazilian police suspected the inmates had raised the cat themselves, possibly to help prepare for an escape attempt.Officials at a Russian prison found the same thing - a cat trained to carry cell phones and sneak them into the jail.Is this unbelievable?
A Coloring Book Full of DrugsIn March 2011, the mother of a prison inmate dissolved the heroin-withdrawl drug Suboxone into a paste, painted it into a coloring book, and sent it off to her son in Cape May, New Jersey. Making it look like a gift, she scribbled "To Daddy" on the book before mailing it. But authorities had already gotten a tip that drugs were being smuggled in drawings, and the book was intercepted, where guards noticed the orange splotches filling in various pictures and tested them. Three prisoners were charged, along with the industrious mother.Is this unbelievable?
The Cell Phone Watch
Lebanon Correctional Institute in Ohio confiscated a real cell phone that looked like an over-sized watch. The kicker is that it was an actual watch that told time, but it could also make calls if the wearer hit a few buttons on the watch face. Watch phones are becoming more and more common as inmates find ways to direct criminal enterprises with smaller and smaller phones.Is this unbelievable?