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University of the West Indies (UWI) criminology lecturer Daurius Figueira says drug dealers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques that can evade scanners and sniffer dogs. Figueira said the $644 million Norfolk, Virginia, USA drug bust where a 732 pounds shipment of cocaine was concealed in juice cans was an “old-school” smuggling method.
Odourless, easily disguised and virtually undetectable by even modern state-of-the-art scanners and highly-trained substance sniffing dogs, the new smuggling method is called “the darkness” because the cocaine could be hidden in plain sight and no one would know. Figueira said “the darkness” was the most effective form of drug smuggling devised to date by making the cocaine part of the legitimate product through the various manufacturing techniques that they used.
He revealed that one of the most favoured methods was to have the cocaine mixed with asphalt. The process required highly technical knowledge, he added. Figueira said after the shipment passed through Customs, the drug dealers removed the cocaine from the asphalt using a chemical process. As long as the drug dealers have the money they can “buy anybody” with the necessary skills, like chemists and other highly-trained people that have the necessary skill sets.
He said this form was practised by a very small elite as it was expensive, requiring resources, infrastructure, machinery and factories; however, it got a greater volume of product through than any other method. Figueira said the crème de la crème who practised “the darkness” were into hardcore trafficking, moving their product past Customs through the ports of Europe, the US and Canada.
He said the only way the cocaine hidden in asphalt was discovered by Colombian police was that someone who was part of the drug-smuggling organisation had informed on the shipment. Figueira said another method was to pack cocaine in the core of high-tension electrical cables while the cables were being manufactured in the factory. He said that this roll of cocaine-filled cable was mixed in with a volume and spread throughout a shipment of 40-foot containers, sometimes as many as 20 to 40 containers.
Figueira said the law of probability also worked in the drug dealers’ favour as a tired, overworked customs officer would be hard-pressed to do a random inspection of one container much less 20 or 40 containers.