CUSTOMS officials are often left gobsmacked at how criminals try to smuggle drugs into the country – from the common tactic of hiding them in luggage to the more enterprising and bizarre.
Last month, SARS officials prevented drugs worth more than R4.5-million from getting into South Africa. "Officials are constantly amazed at the lengths people will go to ... That includes taking massive risks with their own health and even their lives by carrying drugs internally," SARS spokesman Marika Muller said.
Cocaine "bullets" were smuggled in private body parts, Muller said.
"Should a 'bullet' burst or perforate internally, there is a very high chance that the drug mule will die a really painful death – even if medical assistance is close by." Some of the more peculiar finds at OR Tambo International Airport included:
ıWhen customs officials checked unclaimed luggage that arrived from Argentina, they discovered starched clothes which had been soaked in liquid cocaine. It amounted to 6kg of the drugs worth more than R1,6-million;
ıA man travelling from Sao Paulo in Brazil hid fruit in his luggage. The fruit was filled with 4kg of cocaine with a value of more than R1-million;
ıCocaine valued at R61800 was strapped to the soles of a man's feet. He, too, had travelled from Brazil; and
ıMore than 1kg of liquid cocaine bullets were found in the stomach of a man after he was sent for X-rays.
One of the unsung heroes of the busts is Caesar, one of the drug detector dogs used by SARS. Last month, the labrador helped sniff out R874608 worth of cocaine wrapped in a traveller's shirts.
In March, Caesar sniffed out liquid cocaine valued at about R1-million in three wine bottles.
Last year, Nolubabalo Nobanda, from the Eastern Cape, made international headlines when cocaine was found hidden in her dreadlocks in Thailand. And in 2011, Durban headmistress Annabella Momple was caught at Heathrow Airport in London with towels that had been soaked and impregnated with cocaine.
The haul had a street value of about R4,2-million.