Federal narcotics agents in the United States have uncovered evidence that Colombian drug traffickers have developed a method of building glass fibre and plastic products which are infused with cocaine, and can be moulded into any shape.
This allows drug-runners, who each year smuggle hundreds of tons of cocaine into the US, to transport the drug disguised as a multitude of different kinds of product. They simply have to build, for example, a consignment of cocaine-infused plastic toys or car accessories, and ship it to a US port for a small transport fee.
Acting on a tip-off, the FBI has seized three dog kennels which were shipped from Cali - home of one of the largest Colombian cartels - to Los Angeles. They were almost exact replicas of kennels already on the US market. The agency believes that the drug- runners constructed them by mixing together cocaine paste, glass fibre and several other substances to form a malleable material which eventually hardens.
This can be ground into a dust and treated with chemicals to remove all the ingredients apart from crack cocaine. After grinding up the kennels, more than 17 kilos of cocaine were retrieved - a haul with a street value of dollars 1.5m ( pounds 970,000). 'The drug cartels have reached an all-time high in terms of technology,' said John Hoos, an FBI spokesman.
Cocaine embedded in glass fibre or plastic was undetectable by drug-sniffing dogs. But the US authorities say that this case has enabled them to develop an effective test. They have passed this to law enforcement agencies world-wide, including Britain, with warnings about the traffickers' ruse.
However, despite its detectability, it is a big problem in the unending war against drugs because of the huge number of plastic products in existence. 'If anything is made out of plastic or fibreglass, I'm a little suspicious,' said Charlie Parsons, special agent in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, 'If it's made in Colombia, I'm a little more suspicious.'
The FBI, which discovered the kennels after an informant's tip- off, has arrested two men whom they accuse of being part of the drug-smuggling operation.Reuse content