Brazilian police ram airplane to stop smugglers

Believe it or not, this isn’t a leaked scene from the set of Lethal Weapon 5; it’s just another day at the office for a few heroic members of the Brazilian Federal Police.

In what is sure to be the highlight of these officers’ careers, a video uploaded to YouTube yesterday shows police in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil chasing down a group of smugglers attempting to take off in a small aircraft.

After gaining enough speed to catch up with the aircraft, the driver decides that the best course of action is to ram straight through the plane’s wing, disabling the craft and allowing officers to arrest five suspects after a month-long investigation.

We’re still wondering if there’s a Federal Police policy for this sort of thing, or if the officers were just… winging it.

Illegal animal smuggler busted in Thai airport

A man identified only as a citizen of the United Arab Emirates was arrested in the international airport in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday for the illegal smuggling of animals. At the time of his arrest, he had several suitcases which contained two baby leopards, two panthers, two macaque monkeys, and an Asiatic black bear.

According to this story from our friends at AOL Travel, the 36-year old was preparing to board a plane to Dubai (Where else?) when he was taken into custody by anti-trafficking agents. Those agents had been reportedly monitoring him since he had made the purchases on the black market a few days earlier, and were simply waiting for the best time to nab him, and safely recover the animals.

The man’s smuggling operation was described as quite sophisticated. Prior to leaving for the airport, he had drugged the small animals to put them to sleep for the flight back to the UAE. He then placed them into flat cages and slid those cages inside the suitcases, which he would have used to get the animals through the airport had he not been caught in the act.

The illegal trade of exotic animals is becoming a bigger problem throughout Asia and especially in Thailand. Wealthy collectors will visit the country to purchase rare, and sometimes endangered, animals, to add them to their own personal zoos, although it is unclear if this particular smuggler was picking up the animals for himself or to be sold after his return to Dubai. Officials say he seems to be quite well connected however, and he had already posted bail just hours after his arrest.

It is difficult to decide which is worse; the illegal animal smuggling in Asia or the terrible problems with poaching in Africa. Both are highly unsavory acts and I applaud all efforts to put a halt to activities.

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]

Woman arrested at Ben-Gurion airport with 44 iPhones strapped to her legs

Forget drugs, animals and bomb parts – the new hot commodity of choice for smugglers is apparently the Apple iPhone. At Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, a passenger was caught trying to smuggle 44 of the smartphones into the country.

The Israeli woman was returning from London when security guards noticed the phones on the screen of their full-body scanner. Apparently, the passenger had dressed herself in layers of traditional Georgian attire, but failed to realize that the scanners would be able to see right through them.

When she was scanned, the operators were amazed to see the 44 phones in her stockings. After the catch, she was released and a decision will be made later this week whether to indict her.

At least the iPhones were relatively “normal” – other smugglers have tried to import live pigeons, a dead relative and a monkey.

[Photo: AP]

Airport survey reveals huge trade in bushmeat

Researchers studying customs seizures at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris have discovered that smuggling of illegal meat is a huge problem.

Up to 270 tons of illegal meat may be coming into Europe from Africa every year. The study made its estimate based on customs searches over a 17 day period involving 134 passengers from 14 African countries. Nine people were caught with bushmeat weighing a total of 188 kilos (414 lbs). The defendants had a variety of dead animals in their bags, including primates, crocodiles, and rodents. Some were protected species.

Bushmeat, the common term for animals hunted in the African countryside for food, makes up to 80% of protein and fat in the diet of rural Africans. Much of the hunting is for rodents and deer that aren’t endangered, but this practice has also led to some species being pushed onto the endangered species list or becoming locally extinct. Importing bushmeat is illegal in Europe, but the taste for exotic foods, or nostalgia for good home cooking, has led to a major trade in wild animals.

While it’s not a headline grabber like discovering a shipment of human heads, officials say bushmeat smuggling poses a health risk and contributes to wildlife extinction.

Photo courtesy Amcaja via Wikimedia Commons.

Dulles customs agents arrest man for his coke and chicken smuggle trick

Washington Dulles customs agents arrested a man last week for trying to smuggle cooked chicken into the US stuffed with cocaine. The haul was just 60 grams, but that is still worth $4,300 on the street.

While smuggling cocaine isn’t too rare, customs officials do come across new methods every week.

Of course, smuggling your stash in cooked chicken is particularly stupid, as department of agriculture cops are always on the lookout for meat in your luggage. You might as well wear a sign telling them you are a smuggler.

Some other wacky finds at the border we’ve covered here on Gadling: