Riccardo Botta / EyeEm/Getty Images

Delicious-looking, but still dangerous

Tim Nelson
July 20, 2018

Food is a big component of the travel experience. Sometimes, a dish that’s a rare delicacy abroad or simply something that reminds us of our faraway homes just has to come back with us. That’s all well and good because the TSA is A-OK with you traveling with cooked meats and many other sorts of food. The only catch is that you can’t disguise a bunch of heroin as rotisserie chicken and try to get it through customs.


And yet that’s exactly what a 61-year-old woman on a flight from Mexico City to New York’s JFK airport stands accused of doing by Customs and Border Patrol agents. The New Jersey resident channeled her inner chef in a creative attempt to conceal the 9.7 pounds of heroin she’d flown with, shaping (and maybe even seasoning) it into four ‘cooked chickens’ nestled in her luggage.


As you might’ve guessed (I mean if it worked, you wouldn’t be reading about it, you know?), the plan didn’t work. After a baggage inspection, the crack team of border agents were able to stop the import of narcotics with an estimated street value around $300,000.


“Our CBP officers and agriculture specialists experience and vigilance was a key component in this significant narcotic seizure,” Frank Russo, Acting Director of CBP’s New York Field Office said in a statement praising his officers’ ability to spot the difference between heroin and chicken. After her arrest, the woman’s case has been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security’s investigations unit. CBP says it’s stopped 3,700 pounds of heroin from making it into the US this year, the majority of which probably didn’t try and come through disguised as mouthwatering chicken.


The case is just further evidence that food-based disguises probably aren’t the best way to smuggle drugs. Since last winter, authorities have caught cocaine hidden in pineapples and marijuana hidden amongst an avocado shipment. The war on drugs is bad and ineffective, but until prohibition ends you’re probably better off just eating chicken, pineapple, and avocado instead of using them as a vessel for narcotics.  

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