(TMU) — In the ongoing “war against drugs” playing out at ports of entry across the globe, drug smugglers often resort to ingenious methods to smuggle their contraband past authorities.
For one Colombian man who was arrested by Spain’s national police at Barcelona airport, however, this was decidedly not the case.
The Colombian national was arrested after attempting to smuggle a half-kilo—or just over a pound—of cocaine into the country under an oversized hair piece.
The man was “considerably nervous” upon stepping off of his flight from Bogota at the end of June, and for good reason—after all, according to authorities, he had immediately aroused officers’ suspicion due to the “disproportionate size” and strange shape of his wig along with his nervous demeanor while passing through security.
World's worst comb over? Man arrested at Barcelona airport in bald plot to smuggle half a kilo of cocaine into Spain hidden under his wig. pic.twitter.com/y6pdAMAexP
— Sam Edwards (@SamShepEdwards) July 16, 2019
Police have now dubbed the case “Operation Toupee” after officers found $34,000 worth of cocaine wrapped in a “perfectly sealed package taped to his head.”
According to CNN, police couldn’t help but laugh at the strange case, joking:
“His hair is going to fall off!”
In a statement accompanied by photos of the man in his strange toupee, police said:
“There is no limit to the inventiveness of drug traffickers trying to mock controls.”
Airports along the Iberian Peninsula are key gateways used by drug smugglers to get Colombian cocaine into the thriving European market, where the price of blow can reach an astronomically larger price than it can in Latin America.
And while many large-scale smugglers get away with sneaking huge amounts of product into the continent, drug busts can often intercept tons of cocaine.
This past May, Spain’s police arrested a dozen members of a crime ring who had attempted to import cocaine-infused plastic products from Colombia that would then be extracted at three specialized laboratories.
The gang, which was led by the grandparents and parents of the same family, was capable of extracting more than 600 kilos of cocaine from the coke-laced products, according to police.
And in June, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was humiliated when a Brazilian Air Force Officer in his personal travel detail was arrested after being caught with around 86 pounds, or 39 kilos, of coke in the southern Spanish city of Seville.
Hapless mules attempting to bring small quantities of the drug are routinely busted at the country’s airports.
The Guardian reports that on one occasion, officers in Barcelona discovered a package of drugs strapped to a Colombian man’s abdomen. He later confessed that he had also swallowed 35 condoms filled with the drug.
Four years ago, a Portuguese woman was arrested with 31 ounces of cocaine sewn into her hair extensions and wig.
In 2018, police in Portugal and Spain seized 1,642 pounds of cocaine hidden inside of fresh pineapples from South America.
In recent years, authorities also have found cocaine salts within breast implants, wheelchair cushions, a plaster cast on a man’s leg, a 42-piece crockery set, and even in fake buttocks.
Spain is the sixth-largest consumer of cocaine in the European Union. The list is led by the United Kingdom, followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Ireland, according to the Guardian.
According to the Global Drug Survey 2018, cocaine is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world and fetches huge prices in countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East, where prices can range from anywhere between $200 and upwards of $500 per gram.
However, in Latin American countries including Colombia, where most cocaine is produced, the cost of the drug can be as low as $5 to $10 per gram.
Policy analysts credit the drug war for ensuring that relatively cheap-to-produce narcotics fetch a pretty penny on the streets, incentivizing would-be drug mules to risk their lives in pursuit of illicit drug profits.