Creative Drug Smuggling At LAX - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Creative Drug Smuggling At LAX

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Crime never pays. Unless of course you get away with it. And it appears criminals at Los Angeles International Airport are becoming more creative in their efforts to smuggle drugs past the watchful eyes and sophisticated equipment of law enforcement and the TSA. Outsmarting the systems in place to prevent smugglers from doing what they do has become more difficult over the years. But it hasn't deterred diehard crooks convinced they'll succeed. And apparently, all too often, they do.

The most recent misadventure involved one hundred pounds of pot discovered at LAX yesterday. The marijuana is worth about $300,000 and was found in four checked suitcases. But here's the thing. The pot was gift wrapped, disguised as birthday gifts. Officials say the wrapping paper had a cupcake print. Cute. But apparently not cute enough to escape detection.The luggage was scheduled for a flight bound for Atlanta but whoever checked the bags never actually boarded the plane. Needless to say, authorities are now looking for the bags' owners.

This effort is just the latest in a string of attempts to transport illegal drugs through LAX. One woman was recently caught trying to smuggle methamphetamine taped under one of her breasts. All it took in that case was a simple old fashioned pat down. But authorities have to be ever alert as criminals continue to come up with "interesting" ways to circumvent the law. A couple of months ago, a man from Tanzania pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle nearly two pounds of heroin into the U.S. through LAX in a nonworking laptop computer.

But things get a lot more tricky and complicated when the criminal activity involves the TSA. Last year, four current and former TSA screeners at LAX were charged with knowingly allowing luggage filled with cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana to pass through checkpoints from January to July, 2011 in exchange for cash from drug couriers. TSA employees in Florida and New York have also been charged in similar schemes. While recruiting the very people who are supposed to prevent such criminal activity is probably the most effective tool drug traffickers can employ, even that isn't foolproof.

Still, the fact of the matter is, smuggling drugs, when successful, is a big bucks business. The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that Americans spend approximately $65 billion a year on illegal drugs with only about $1 billion seized by all Federal agencies combined. And even though the risk of being caught may be higher in some cases than the prospect of getting rich, just the mere possibility of the latter seems to be enough incentive for people to try it in increasingly creative ways.

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