Unorganized Crime: Oddities in the World of Criminal Activity

Published: 11 September 2020

Drone-Cannabis Israel

The pro-legalisation group Green Drone used a UAV to drop bags of marijuana over a square in Tel Aviv (Photo: Israeli Police)

By The Daily Team

Severed and swallowed fingers, Frankenstein tanks, snack-packed heroin, and the day it rained marijuana — welcome to your weekly round-up of the strangest events in international crime from us here at OCCRP.

- Liquor smugglers in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have been caught using vehicles like ambulances, water tankers and milk vans to transport shipments of booze concealed in gas cylinders, vegetable crates and even fish tanks, the Times of India reports.

Amid increased restrictions on liquor production as part of a phased introduction of a complete ban on all alcohol in the region, experts say that an uptick in seizures of inventively-concealed contraband points to the growing number of ‘belt shops’, as illegal liquor manufacturers are known.


- Meanwhile in the UK, a truck driver was convicted after attempting to conceal £1.25 million (US$1.6 million) worth of uncut heroin in a shipment of fried potato chips.

According to YahooNews, Polish national Dariusz Urban received a 12-year sentence on Saturday after he was intercepted with the drugs at Harwich International Port in Essex.

His arrest was made possible through the use of intel obtained by the National Crime Agency following its infiltration of the encrypted communications platform EncroChat, used “almost exclusively by organized criminals,” a few months previously.


- Over in Italy, a Sicilian mafia boss bit off and then swallowed a prison guard’s finger when the 60-year-old mafioso attacked seven prison guards at once during an inspection of his cell, as reported by the Guardian.

Giuseppe Fanara, a senior member of the Cosa Nostra syndicate, is serving a life sentence at Rebibbia prison in Rome.


- A warm afternoon in the Israeli tourist hotspot of Tel Aviv was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a drone last Thursday that proceeded to drop small bags of cannabis which were then quickly scooped up by passers-by, according to The Jerusalem Post.

All in all, a kilogram of the drug was reportedly unloaded over Rabin Square. Press have identified the actors behind the stunt as the Green Drone Telegram group, who advocate for the legalisation of marijunana in Israel.

Each two gram bag was accompanied with a small message that read: “It is a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the green drone, handing out free cannabis from the sky.”


- In Russia, a former aide to President Vladimir Putin has published a poetic meditation on freedom and loneliness following his ousting after seven years as a chief advisor on Russia’s policy on Ukraine.

Coverage by The Moscow Times features extracts of the poem by Vladislav Surkov, which include such lines as “Who needs cocaine | When there’s this air? | Take it and breathe in | That’s it, wait for the high | This is what paradise looks like.”

Surkov is apparently a widely regarded lyricist and a gangsta rap aficionado, who during his time in office boasted a portrait of American rapper Tupac on his desk, alongside a photo of the Russian president himself.


- And finally, in Mexico, cartels have taken to assembling bootleg, Mad Max-esque armored cars from repurposed scraps of metal and glass for use in confrontations with the authorities and rival syndicates.

Mexico News Daily posted several photos of the vehicles, which have reportedly earned such monikers as Monster, Rhinoceros, Batmobile and even Popemobile by their creators.

News of the makeshift tanks follows after reports that one of the country’s notorious drug-trafficking organisations has taken to jerry-rigging drones, ladening the unmanned aerial vehicles with explosives in order to target uncooperative farming communities.

Outlets including El Universal said that a citizen’s militia had conducted searches on two trucks in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, Michoacan, believed to belong to the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, in which they discovered the devices strapped to packages of C4, a plastic-based military-grade explosive.