Head of the Frankfurt Customs Office, Albrecht Vieth, announced that the world of drug smuggling has changed. Changed from carrying drugs on a human body to shipping drugs through the mail. This may seem trivial by itself; many countries, Germany not excluded, cracked down on darknet drug trafficking—an activity that required frequent monitoring of mail couriers. However, Vieth had a perspective and source of data that puts the trafficking into a perspective not often shared by officials or news outlets.
For the most part, the stories that made recent headlines involved something unique to even the customs agents themselves. One example of such a headline occurred late last year when customs agents caught $293,850 worth of cocaine, destined for spain, hidden inside a woman’s breasts. Hans-Juergen Schmidt, the Frankfurt Airport Customs spokesperson said customs employees were truly surprised by the ameteur job and poorly cdmpleled surgery. “This was the first case in Germany in which drugs have been smuggled in this fashion,” the spokesperson said.
“The biggest blow to the international drug smugglers in German seaports for seven years was achieved by Zoll on 18 January 2017. The 717 kilograms of cocaine were secured in the port of Hamburg, a press release revealed. While the physically transported drugs usually take more conventional routes or methods of transportation, submarines are not out of the question.
Another, according to Isabell Gillmann, press secretary at the Frankfurt Main Main Office, Customs found 250 grams of cocaine stuffed within a single printer. The package came from Colombia and passed through Frankfurt en route to South Africa. An x-ray machine picked up on the cocaine right away, she said.
Albrecht Vieth, used the woman’s cocaine-filled breasts example as a point of reference for the change he saw in the world of drug trafficking. He mentioned that the woman already received a sentence of two and a half years in prison. He continued with some of the examples from last year. One occurrence was a woman with 10 bottles of rum in her luggage but Customs officers noticed that the bottles contained 4.6 kilograms of cocaine—combined throughout all the bottles. She received five years imprisonment.
“The Frankfurt Airport is a hub for the global drug smuggling,” he said. And as a hub, he continued, “we have seen an extreme shift in drug smuggling from travel to mail. The freight airport Leipzig / Halle has also developed into a hub of smuggling in Eastern Germany, which is responsible in three federal states for package delivery.” The majority of that mail is international, a spokesperson said.
Vieth explained that the majority of this shift came from the darknet, a “small part of the Internet” where one can buy and sell drugs. Some Customs offices see more than drugs alone, the Customs officials explained. Udo Storch, a spokesperson from the Hamburg Customs Office, said that he saw a massive increase in counterfeit goods from China. In only a few weeks, the Hamburg Customs saw enough fake perfume to fill 500 bathtubs. The office seized 1.4 million individual items so far including drugs, protected animals, and counterfeit goods.
Although the overall seizures or interceptions were lower on paper, that is not the entire story. Officers previously seized 5,296 kilograms of drugs at the Frankfurt Customs Office. So far they noticed an increase of 182 percent with respect to mailed or shipped packages. And the traveller-based seizures only amounted to 160 individual drug seizures, These numbers, of course, came from a single customs office in Germany. Differences between the various offices is expected.