Customs and Border Protection earlier today announced the arrests of two hashish smugglers at Philadelphia International Airport in separate incidents this month.
Officials referred to the smugglers as "swallowers" because they had ingested a combined 1.5 pounds of hashish which had been stored in tiny plastic pellets. The pellets are typically made from latex gloves and condoms.
The first of the swallowing smugglers, Sanchez Smith, 20, was arrested after he arrived at Philly International on Sept. 18 on a flight from Jamaica. He intended to catch another flight to Bermuda, said Steve Sapp, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman.
Smith admitted to Customs officials at the airport that he was a smuggler, Sapp said. Smith spent about a week in a local hospital, where he eventually passed 74 pellets that contained 469.8 grams of hashish, worth about $13,000. Smith was released from the hospital on Saturday and turned over to Pennsylvania State Police, Sapp said.
On Friday, Customs officials arrested another smuggler, Shakai Darrell, 25, at Philly International, Sapp said. Smith had also traveled from Jamaica with the intention of catching a flight to Bermuda. He was released to Philadelphia police on Monday, after he had passed 38 pellets of hash at a local hospital, Sapp said. The pellets weighed 300 grams and were worth about $8,500.
Sapp said investigators believed Smith and Darrell were a part of the same drug smuggling ring.
"It's very difficult to detect [swallowers]," Sapp said. "It's extremely dangerous work. If one of those pellets are breached inside their body, it can end up killing them."