Interpol Detects New Narcotic Smuggling Methods and Routes

Interpol said Tuesday it discovered new routes and methods West Asian and African criminal networks use to smuggle narcotics - for example, swallowing condoms filled with liquid cocaine and safely passing through airport security.

800px-Crystal Meth copy copy copyMacro shot of Crystal Methamphetamine (Photo: Radspunk, CC BY-SA 2.0)A two-week operation conducted in May resulted in 59 seizures and several arrests, according to Interpol’s website.

More than 2,000 police and customs officials across 14 countries worldwide took part in the first phase of the so-called Operation Lionfish – ASEAN, which targeted only airports. The second phase will focus on land and sea borders.

The Interpol-led operation "shows the importance of timely information exchange and it is through such a platform that participating countries come together as one strong force, acting in unison," said Abdul Halim Rahman, Senior Officer-In-Charge of the Central Narcotics Bureau at Changi Airport in Singapore.

Methamphetamine - one of the most smuggled drugs in the Asia-Pacific region - represents a quarter of the seized substances, which also include cocaine, cannabis, heroin and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) worth about US$ 18 million.

The innovative and dangerous 'condom' trick was detected by officials in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E). They notified Interpol which then shared the information and detection techniques with 190 member countries.

Some more traditional methods were also observed: ivory hidden inside frozen salmon or methamphetamine concealed in soft toys.

Law enforcement identified a new cocaine trafficking route via Ethiopia to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific.