There was just one problem: as teenagers with eyes bigger than their lungs, they almost always ended up with leftovers. This presented a dilemma when it came time to pack your bags and go home – to smuggle or not to smuggle? Complicating the predicament was the fact that my father, who was black and all, had about a 110 percent chance of being stopped at the border for a “random check.”
The solution? Mail the leftovers back to their address in an inconspicuous envelope—a kind of nice, consumable postcard. Sure, the package could be intercepted and confiscated, but all things considered, the risk was pretty low.
It turns out her brilliant idea is pretty much one of the most common ways drug dealers transport drugs across borders. In Belgium, these types of customs controls and confiscations are the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance. Spokeswoman Florence Angelici said they keep coming across cleverly disguised stashes of drugs in the mail. “We intercept a lot of synthetic products like MDMA, ecstasy and ketamine,” she says. “They are mainly made in the Netherlands, in places close to the border where it is easier to get them past the police. To avoid being caught, human traffickers send them out of Belgium [to other countries] instead of the Netherlands.”
According to Angelici, drug trafficking of this type has increased significantly in recent years – and the disguises are becoming more sophisticated. However, it’s difficult to quantify such things as many of these packages end up getting where they’re going. “In terms of novelty,” Angelici says, “I’d say we’ve seen a lot more tranquilizers in the last five years — ketamine, GHB, and benzodiazepines [an antidepressant], for example. We have also seen an increase in ecstasy. In 2021 we found over 100 kilograms of it in the mail, a 20 percent increase from 2020.”