Chocolate meth? Customs agents have seen it all

Something about the dozens of individually wrapped chocolate bars in the luggage of a man flying from California to Japan struck a federal Customs and Border Protection officer as odd. Sure enough, when unwrapped, they turned out to be more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine covered by a “chocolate-like substance.”

Photos | Drugs hidden inside food

That bust at Los Angeles International Airport in July 2012 was one of tens of thousands of drug seizures made by customs agents each year at the nation’s airports, including many where drugs were hidden inside food.

This February 2012 photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows plastic packets of chocolate syrup and salad dressing concealing cocaine paste in Los Angeles. A mother and daughter traveling from Spain were carrying bags of condiments that customs officials at LAX decided felt unusually thick. They opened it up to find a plastic bag with cocaine paste placed inside, and then found another syrup packet in their checked luggage that contained more cocaine paste. Customs officials said they confiscated more than 10 pounds of the paste, a gummy substance that is extracted from coca leaves and then dried and turned into the white powder sold on the street. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)
This February 2012 photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows plastic packets of chocolate syrup and salad dressing concealing cocaine paste in Los Angeles. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)

Customs officers stopping travelers coming and going from the United States have found drugs disguised as cream filling in cookies, in bags of coffee, bottles of rum, and stuffed inside bricks of frozen meat, among other places.

“Drug smugglers, mules, what have you, they use various consumer methods. Depending on how much experience they’ve had, (officers have) probably seen every concealment method under the sun,” said Anthony Bucci, the public affairs specialist for Customs and Border Protection’s New York regional office.

Customs officials made 153,000 drug seizures from people trying to enter or leave the country between the 2011 and 2015 fiscal years in the top five ports of entry alone, according to the agency.

Officers in the New York region — including Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports — made more than 72,000 stops over the five-year span, and Chicago had more than 36,000.

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