7 Cray Ways People Have Tried to Smuggle Drugs Across the Border

Lead Photo: Image via AP Photo/ ICE
Image via AP Photo/ ICE
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When news broke about the capture of NarcoPaloma – a pigeon used to move drugs at Costa Rica’s La Reforma Penitentiary – the Latinternet was quick to dub the unwilling participant a boss. At the very least, there was a feeling of awe. (Though, if you hear the way the prison’s officials tell it, this is nothing new.) Those trying to get drugs over U.S. borders are similarly not short on creativity. Customs and Borders claim they seize 10,327 pounds of drugs on a typical day, meaning that if this is the norm for them, smugglers have to put in work.

Here are seven creative ways they have tried to get it done in the past:


Regular Tunnels

By now, you’ve had the time to get familiar with El Chapo’s jailbreak via a tunnel. He has often been called a tunnel master, even though it’s not something original to him. According to The New Yorker, the Sinaloa cartel was the first to use tunnels to cross borders – tunnels that are so elaborate and well-constructed (features include elevators, electric lights, ventilation ducts, and hidden entry and exit shafts) – that federal agents have dubbed them supertunnels. In the last 25 years or so, 181 tunnels have been found. In 2003, the San Diego Tunnel Task Force was created just to try and sniff them out.


Underwater Tunnels

Honduran Evelio Padilla-Zepeda put on a SCUBA suit and tried to smuggle cocaine through an underwater tunnel. He ended up being caught while trying to move 25 packages of vacuum-sealed cocaine, according to CNN.



In Mexicali, Mexico this home-made cannon was confiscated by police in 2013. Apparently it was being used to shoot packages of marijuana over a border fence into California, and had been rigged to launch up to 13kg of drugs at once.



Yep, drugs are now being smuggled via drones. In April, 28 pounds of heroin came to the U.S. by drone. The two men who picked up the package near a highway ended up pleading guilty, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Inside Frozen Mango Pulp

About $3 million dollars worth of marijuana was found inside containers of frozen mango pulp. The smugglers made the U.S. Customs and Border Protection work for it, though. In order to seize the drugs, they had to wait until the containers were unfrozen, according to Valley Central.


Homemade submarines

Water is a popular way to move drugs, and narco-subs have become popular in recent years, according to Quartz. On July 18, the Coast Guard saw parts of a sub peeking out of the water. Inside, there was $181 million worth of cocaine.


Border Fence Ramp

In Yuma, Arizona, smugglers built a makeshift ramp over the US- Mexico border fence – which, by the way, was 14 feet high – to try and straight up drive over it.