A woman has been arrested at an airport in China after attempting to smuggle suitcases made of cocaine through customs.
In one of the most inventive methods devised by traffickers to smuggle drugs across borders, the mule was carrying two custom-made cases made of plastic pellets and cocaine powder, which were constructed using a technique dubbed injection moulding.
The South Asian woman, who arrived at Shanghai’s Pudong airport on a flight from South America, was stopped after customs officials noticed that her cases appeared to be unusually dark in colour when they passed through an X-ray machine.
On closer inspection, one officer found that he could barely lift the cases.
After carrying out tests, Chinese officials said the suitcases had been made from more than 10kg of cocaine, adding that this was the first known example of a person using this technique in an attempt to sneak drugs past customs checks.
Anybody found guilty of smuggling more than 50 grams of cocaine into China faces a mandatory death sentence.
The woman would have already been a target for customs officers on account of the fact she was travelling from a country considered to be high risk in terms of drug trafficking.
She was stopped back in February, but Chinese authorities only released details of her arrest this week.
The smuggling attempt is the latest example of the ingenious techniques criminals dream up to beat customs officers.
In 2009, a man who arrived at Barcelona’s El Prat airport from Chile nursing a broken leg was found to be wearing a cast made of cocaine.
Spanish police said that while the man was genuinely suffering from bone fractures, they suspected that either he or his accomplices had broken his leg deliberately in an attempt to make his wearing of the cast more convincing.
Two women were found to be wearing nappies stuffed full of cocaine when a drugs dog identified them as suspicious after they flew into New York from the Dominican Republic in 2013.
Officers initially failed to find anything suspicious when they searched the women’s luggage, but then discovered they were carrying some 6kgs of cocaine tapped around their waists in specially-constructed undergarments.
Back in China, a couple were arrested last year after they attempted to smuggle cocaine dissolved in bottles of wine into the country.
The Chinese pair, who had flown into Shanghai on a flight from Brazil, were found to be carrying 32 bottles of wine infused with the drug.
The couple claimed they had been paid just over €500 to travel with the bottles of wine, and that they had no knowledge of their contents.
Like the woman who was arrested in February at Pudong, the couple were travelling on a flight that customs officials monitored for drug traffickers.