A woman in America decided to forgo the drug smuggler’s time-honoured tradition of ramming narcotics up her arse in favour of hiding her stash in a motorised wheelchair instead. Although, it didn’t get her very far – the smuggling method, not the wheelchair.
Yoncela Stanley had just landed in the U.S. on a JetBlue flight from St. Lucia on Sunday when Customs and Border Protection officers noticed something amiss with the chair’s back seat cushion.
Stanley appeared nervous when she presented her baggage, prompting Customs agents to bring over a drugs dog who alerted the officers to the contraband, authorities said.
And no wonder she was nervous, because upon cutting the chair’s cushion open, officers were greeted by the sight of six bricks and two clear bags of coke.
The haul weighed in at an impressive 27 lbs, with a street value of around $468,000.
Stanley was charged with federal narcotics smuggling and was ordered held on $50,000 bail during a brief arraignment Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,” said Leon Hayward, acting director of field operations in New York.
Smuggling drugs inside of a wheelchair is admittedly pretty ‘out there’, but when you compare it to some of the other ways smugglers have got their products across borders in the past, it pales in comparison.
Only last year authorities uncovered one of the longest and most sophisticated drug smuggling tunnels they had ever seen.
They say the 800m tunnel was used to transport an ‘unprecedented cache’ of cocaine and marijuana between Mexico and the US.
The tunnel ran at a depth of 14m (46ft) from the bottom of an elevator shaft built into a house in Tijuana to a hole in the ground on the American side in San Diego, enclosed within a fenced-in lot set up under the cover of a pallet business.
The US-Mexico border. Credit: PA
The smuggling route was highly sophisticated, The Los Angeles Times reported, and had a ventilation system and lighting. On the Mexican side, the tunnel was connected to an elevator that ascended into a house.
Another somewhat less refined method that cartels in Mexico often use to get packets of drugs over the border is to quite literally shoot them over the fence.
Gangs have taken to using cannons to launch packages of marijuana and cocaine over the fences that separate Mexico from the United States.
Other methods include specially built unmanned submarines that are constructed deep in the Amazon, drones, high-speed stealth boats and light aircraft.
Catapults are another common tool when it comes to getting drugs over the fence.
Mexican authorities have discovered many catapults suspected of being used for drug trafficking in recent years. But the relative inefficiency and inaccuracy of these machines means that they are far from the most reliable way of transporting narcotics.
Well, still more efficient that wheelchairs though, presumably.
Words: Paddy Maddison