As anyone who's ever watched an episode of Narcos will no doubt agree, Central and South American drug cartels are absolutely off their chops. This is something which is clearly mirrored in the completely and utterly batshit bizarre ways they've managed to get their product over the US border and even further.
While the UK's traffickers are probably sat around scratching their arses, giving it the whole "yeah, mate, just pop it on a boat and hope for the best. It'll probably be fine", Mexico are like "u wot mate? How about firing giant packets of cocaine out of an ACTUAL CANNON?"
Let's be clear, we're in no way advocating firing bags of class A drugs out of massive guns, but that doesn't mean that some of the ways in which gangs have transported their goods aren't actually pretty damn inventive/impressive.
Allow us to walk you through some of their more ridiculous methods:
Image Credit: PA
What's the definition of audacious? How about attempting to smuggle a tonne of Cannabis across the Mexico/U.S border in the back of an open-top pickup truck?
Well, that's exactly what one group of traffickers got caught doing earlier this year.
Wrapping packets of weed up in orange duct tape, the smugglers then mixed them with hundreds of carrots and drove them to the border in the back of their motors. Unsurprisingly, sniffer dogs immediately rumbled them.
Smugglers will go to some pretty grim lengths to transport their goods. A perfect example of this is when a 24-year old woman was arrested after flying from Colombia to Frankfurt carrying £200,000 worth of class A drugs in her breasts.
Security staff became suspicious when they noticed fresh scars on her chest during a search. She admitted to carrying the drugs and was sent to hospital to have them removed.
Image Credit: PA
Going subterranean has long been a popular method among drug cartels to get their goods from A to B. These tunnels are often cramped and poorly ventilated despite the fact that they can stretch for many miles.
It can also be tricky to conceal the entrance to a fucking giant, border-crossing drugs portal. In fact some gangs have been known to go as far as to re-concrete and carpet over openings after each and every trip.
Now that's dedication.
Yeah, catapults - and we're not talking little Bart Simpson style catapults either. We're talking medieval style trebuchets, capable of hurling eye-watering amounts of weed over a 21-foot fence.
It's not for the faint hearted, though. One of the main setbacks with this method is that smugglers have to position themselves right next to the border, making it a pretty easy way to get caught. Let's face it, it's going to be tricky to talk your way out when the DEA catch you next to a fence, holding 10 kilos of South America's finest and standing on top of a giant throwing machine.
Video Credit: US Coast Guard
Affectionately referred to by drug enforcement officials as 'narco-subs', these submersible vessels are built in the Amazon rainforest, rammed full of drugs and then sent on their merry way. Many narco-subs are unmanned and can be unloaded offshore onto powerboats for the final leg of the journey.
Until fairly recently the authorities thought that these subs were an oddity, but as more and more are intercepted, it's becoming clear that subs are one of the key tools in shifting vast amounts of cocaine.
Secret rail networks
We've already established that drug traffickers like to tunnel underground, but earlier this year they took it to an entirely new level.
Police, in April, uncovered a gigantic tunnel, leading from Mexico to the US. The difference with this tunnel was the sheer level of sophistication involved. Ventilation, electricity and lighting all made this one of the most complex tunnels discovered to date, but what really set it apart was the fact that it featured a working railway to transport goods from one end to the other.
Over recent years, police have seized several vehicles fitted with makeshift bazookas that, in theory, could be capable of firing drug packages not just over a fence but also straight through it.
That kind of firepower would reportedly enable gangs to fire packages over the fence from within 200 metres of the border, with a driver poised and ready for a swift getaway.
Okay, strictly speaking they're not used for drug transportation, but narco-tanks play a major part in defending smuggling routes from rival cartels and law enforcement.
Usually repurposed military vehicles, these all terrain beasts are totally bulletproof, bombproof, armed to the teeth and have been known to carry up to 20 fighters onboard.
Image Credit: PA
Given that drones are now being used for everything from deliveries to aerial photography, it should come as no great surprise that drug cartels have found a use for them, too.
Just last year two men were arrested for flying 12 kilos of heroin over the border near San Diego. Border security only realised when they spotted men on CCTV, collecting the parcels on the other side.
As technology moves forwards so do drug trafficking techniques and one new method that has border officials completely screwed is liquid cocaine.
What is liquid cocaine? It's regular cocaine mixed with solvents until it dissolves. It can then be sprayed onto anything from clothing to everyday objects and separated once it reaches its end location.
In spite of the efforts of the DEA to control drug trafficking it's estimated that the smuggling business in Mexico alone is worth over $50 billion. Although many of the above methods have resulted in arrests, it's worth remembering that these are just the ones we know about.
Words By: Paddy Maddison
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