Creative smuggling: Criminals find many ways to hide contraband - CBS46 News

Creative smuggling: Criminals find many ways to hide contraband

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Border agents say smugglers try to hide their drugs in household products and food items. (Source: Tucson Sector Border Patrol) Border agents say smugglers try to hide their drugs in household products and food items. (Source: Tucson Sector Border Patrol)
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Even as border security tightens, the amount of drugs found by border agents is on the rise.  Smugglers are getting so desperate to sneak drugs into our state that they're going to amazing lengths to hide their product. 

Tucson News Now requested pictures of some of the craziest drug seizures made by Tucson Sector Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection officers working in Nogales.  Pictures show drugs discovered in a bucket of chicken, underwear, and every crevice of a vehicle.

Customs officers have seen it all.

 "They'll go all the way from the vehicle, into the body, inside the person, and into their luggage," said Chief Nathaniel Garcia at the DeConcini Port of Entry.

Even as Tucson News Now was covering this issue at the port, officers had finished searching a car, where they say they found a dozen wrapped packages of cocaine hidden underneath the back seat.

"I can't say what it is or why it is, but we've been seeing an increase in the hard narcotics," Garcia said.

In recent years there's been an increase in heroin seizures at the port.  Officers seized 576 pounds of heroin in fiscal year 2012.  The numbers for meth are more alarming.  So far this fiscal year, officers have found more than 2,500 pounds.

What isn't found at the port will sometimes be found at the Interstate 19 Border Patrol checkpoint.  Agents say smugglers try to hide their drugs in household products and food items.

 "If agents see that, oh it's just typical, it's just food inside, who's going to look inside," Agent Bryan Flowers said.

Marijuana is the most commonly found drug at the ports and checkpoints, with Border Patrol seeing the biggest jump in seizures.  In fiscal year 2012, Tucson sector agents found about 1,015,000 pounds of pot.  So far this fiscal year, they've discovered 1,087,000 pounds.

Some bales are found in gas tanks, buried under trailer loads, in seats, and one seizure was found behind a television mounted in a vehicle.

 "All of our agents use the proper due diligence to basically notice maybe what may deceive the common eye," Flowers said.

It boils down to high tech screening, drug sniffing dogs, and even knowing how to read people.

"We're giving them more training on behavioral analysis," Garcia said.  "The itinerary, where they're going, and depending on what their story is."

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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