Bizarre Smuggling Stories That Didn't Quite Work Out as Planned

If you’ve traveled internationally, you know the anxious feeling of passing through Customs and feeling like you are going to be busted for something. Maybe you brought in a weird fruit, or maybe you have twenty endangered birds shoved down your pants – we don’t know, we’re not here to judge. The smuggler stories that you’re about to read are full of people who tried to pull something past the authorities in the strangest possible way. From hiding drugs in fake food, to trying to pretend that a turtle was a sandwich, there’s no way to follow the obtuse logic of any of these decisions. Basically, whatever the opposite of Occam’s razor is, these weird smuggling stories are it. 

When a criminal has weird things and smuggles them in a weird way it almost seems like they’re trying to get caught. Why else would someone take the time to poorly craft 2,000 fake carrots, or everyone’s favorite gibberish speaking cartoon characters, Minions? The biggest take away from these weird smuggling stories is that there’s no good way to bring something illegal through airport security or across the border of another country. And the sillier your method is for hiding contraband the more likely it is that you’re going to be caught. Whether you’re doing some research for your next caper or you just like to read about dumb criminals, there’s a lot of fun to be had with these terrible smugglers. 


  • The Canadian Mint Employee Who Smuggled Gold in His Butt

    There are plenty of ways to move gold, but beginning in 2014 Leston Lawrence attempted to thwart the Canadian Mint's security by smuggling $140,000 worth of gold ($180,000 in Canadian dollars) in his butt. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police received a heads up about Lawrence's back door dealings by a bank teller who noticed the thief making an unusual amount of deposits at the Ottawa Gold Buyers store.

  • Pills Smuggled Into School with Donuts

    If there are two things that young people love, it would be donuts and breaking the law. On March 22, 2016, a couple of dufuses combined those two things when they attempted to smuggle narcotics into the Bordentown Regional High School in New Jersey. Brian Perry, a 21 year old, dropped off "lunch" for his friend Ilker Ceylan in the school's office, and as soon as he left school administrators went through the lunch bag and discovered a donut with six Xanax pills inside a sandwich bag stuffed in the center hole. What a lazy drug delivery. Police arrested and charged Perry and Ceylan with possession and intent to distribute.

  • Roofing Shingles Used to Smuggle Marijuana

    There's no perfect method for smugglers who are trying to move product across the border, but roofing shingles seems like a bad idea from the start. In January 2016, a truck attempted to haul 288 marijuana-filled bundles of roofing shingles, totaling to 954 pounds, and adding up to a street value of $763,200 through the Mexican/American border at El Paso. That totally sounds like an idea that someone floated in the Cheech and Chong writer's room. 

  • Sharks Used to Smuggle Cocaine

    Sharks Used to Smuggle Cocaine
    Photo: 0gust1 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    There are drug smuggling attempts and then there are drug smuggling attempts. Plans that are so ludicrous that you would think a Bond villain was consulted somewhere during the planning stage. In 2009, Mexican police confiscated 20 frozen shark carcasses filled with slabs of cocaine that added up to more than one ton of nose candy. The people in charge of the shipment tried to pass off the cocaine as a "conserving agent" but after some tests there was no way to lie about what the police had found. 

  • Man Tries to Smuggle Turtle onto a Plane in a KFC Sandwich

    Man Tries to Smuggle Turtle onto a Plane in a KFC Sandwich
    Photo: Cayusa / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    In August 2016, a traveler identified only by his surname, Li, was attempting to travel through China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport on a China Southern Airlines flight to Beijing with his best friend - a turtle - hidden inside the bun of a KFC sandwich. Airport security noticed “odd protrusions” in the burger's wrapper in the X-ray scanner and squashed his attempt to take his buddy on the flight. According to The Telegraph, Li had to leave his turtle with a friend and take a later flight. 

  • Relaxed Human Tries to Smuggle Crystal Meth in Neck Pillow

    Relaxed Human Tries to Smuggle Crystal Meth in Neck Pillow
    Photo: osseous / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    In January, 2016 the most chill passenger on a flight from Hong Kong to New Zealand was arrested upon arrival when it was discovered that his two neck pillows were full of almost $1 million worth of crystal meth. According to officials in New Zealand, the crystal meth route from Hong Kong to New Zealand is fairly common as the drug fetches a heftier price in the Kiwi country.