It has become an article of faith that the illicit drug business is every bit as sophisticated as its Fortune 500 counterparts. But a closer look at the industry’s transportation practices reveals some definite scientific shortcomings. As this Dutch study of drug-courier techniques demonstrates, trafficking networks continue to employ concealment practices that have long been discredited. Case in point:
In this 44-year-old man, end-on coin was found along with rectosigmoid bolitas. Some traffickers have mistaken belief that coins or other metallic objects will degrade image sufficiently to make bolitas invisible [to X-rays]. In fact, coin is positive indicator; every case (n = 35) found with internal coins was positive for contraband.
After years of feedback regarding the ineffectiveness of this technique, why do drug traffickers keep using it? Perhaps it is because, unlike in legit enterprises, those at the top of drug-trafficking organizations have zero incentive to care about the fates of their lowest-level employees. There is no possibility of a class-action suit by wronged mules, after all, so why even bother paying attention to evidence regarding the efficacy of smuggling tricks? Enough get through to keep the profits rolling in. Unparalleled success breeds laziness.
An illustrated summary of the Dutch study is available here.