Suitcase Jailbreak

Mexican Inmate in Suitcase, Falcon Egg, and More of the Craziest Smuggling Attempts

An unsuccessful attempt to smuggle a man out of prison in a suitcase and more epic failures.

SIPSE / AP Photo

The Prisoner in the Suitcase

A prisoner in Mexico made headlines around the world when his wife tried to smuggle him to freedom by hiding him in her suitcase. Since 2007, Juan Ramirez Tijerina has been serving a 20-year sentence for illegal weapons possession. After a conjugal visit, his common-law wife, Maria del Mar Arjona, tried to leave the prison while dragging a suitcase that guards said looked unusually heavy. When guards inspected the bag, they found Ramirez inside, in the fetal position. Cesar Manuel Castilla, a spokesman for the town of Chetumal, said, "We have three inspection stations at the prison, and he was caught in the first one. In any case, she would have been asked to open the suitcase for inspection at the third and last inspection station. I don't know what they were thinking."

AP Photo

Falcon-Egg Smuggler

In 2009, Jeffrey Lendrum was arrested for trying to smuggle 14 peregrine-falcon eggs into Dubai by taping them to his chest. The falcons are endangered, and the eggs would have been worth £70,000. He initially told officers they were chicken eggs, then later claimed they were to help his back pain, but it turned out the former soldier had climbed a cliff in Rhondaa, south Wales, to steal the valuable items for sale on the black market. An investigator later said, “Lendrum is the highest level of wildlife criminal.”

Department of Justice / AP Photo

Sony Dong

Sony Dong was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in 2009 for smuggling 14 songbirds from Vietnam. They were wrapped in cloth and strapped to his legs. The birds would have been worth $400 each.

Joel Sartore / AP Photo

Snakes and Reptiles

Keeping reptiles as pets is illegal in Norway, but this guy apparently never got the memo. In 2009, an unnamed Norwegian man was caught trying to smuggle 14 snakes and 10 lizards from Denmark to Norway. The snakes, harmless royal pythons, were rolled into socks and strapped to his torso. Ten geckos were in small boxes attached to his legs. There was also a tarantula hidden in his bag. One customs official said, “Customs officers quickly realized the man was smuggling animals, because his whole body was in constant motion.”


Drugs and Coloring Books

In March 2011, relatives of three inmates at a jail in Cape May, New Jersey, attempted to smuggle the drug Suboxone into the facility in the pages of a children’s coloring book. The drug was dissolved into a paste and painted on the pages of the book. Individual pages were then sent to the inmates with messages like “To Daddy” written on them. The smugglers might have been successful had authorities not received a tip about the true content of the drawings. Cape May County Sheriff Gary Schaffer said, “I’ve been in law enforcement for 38 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Spanish Police, HO / AP Photo

Cocaine Cast

Who knew that cocaine can help heal? Spanish police arrested a 66-year-old Chilean caught wearing a cast made entirely of compressed cocaine bracing his broken shin. The man, attempting to smuggle the drug through a Barcelona airport, was carrying a total of 11 pounds hidden in various containers, including the 2.2-pound cast, six resealed beer cans, and the legs of two small folding stools. Police discovered the cast after spraying it with a chemical that turns blue when it comes in contact with cocaine.

DEA / AP Photo

Heroin Puppies

Few things illustrate cruelty better than harm done to innocent puppies. Smugglers resort to extremes to get their drugs into the American market—doing things like stitching liquid heroin packets into the bellies of the cute creatures. Twenty-two Colombians were arrested after authorities received a tip about an odd farm complete with a “veterinary clinic” in a rural area. Three of the multimillion-dollar dogs died of infection following the bust.

Luis Robayo, AFP / Getty Images

Drug-Smuggling Submarines

We all live in a “narcosubmarine,” a “narcosubmarine,” a “narcosubmarine.” Colombian drug smugglers have grown so high tech that they have begun to house their goods in submarines. The vessels hold nearly eight tons of drugs and are capable of reaching Mexico. The trip would take an estimated eight to nine days without surfacing, which sounds like quite the miserable journey, but luckily, there’s air conditioning.

Car-Seat Smuggling

While everyone loves a spin in a Mercedes, two immigrants endured a not-so-luxurious one when human traffickers smuggled them across the Balkans into Europe. Two men were able to wedge themselves inside the front seats of the car, even squeezing their heads into the plastic head rests. Their plan failed when they were caught by border patrol. An estimated 50,000 illegal immigrants had passed through the Balkans at the time of this photo in 2007.

Smuggled in a Glove Compartment

Some people put luau girls on their dashboards; others put people inside them. Human traffickers will hide immigrants anywhere these days, regardless of their safety. The tactics grow ever more desperate as foreigners attempt to overcome stricter immigration laws to reach the havens of Germany and Britain. This photo and others taken in the Kosovo/Bosnia area were circulated around the U.N. in a package marked “No Visas Required.”