Hong Kong Customs Found 217 Kilos Of Cocaine Hidden Inside An Aircraft Engine

People with access to air travel, especially to positions of trust, are frequently tempted to use their access to make extra money through smuggling whether it’s border security offers or flight attendants. At one point 20% of Air Tahiti Nui flight attendants were suspended for drug trafficking.

Aircraft make great hiding spots for drugs, like when the nose of this American Airlines jet hid 31 pounds of cocaine.

But what on earth led Hong Kong Customs officers to do a full tear down on an aircraft engine leading them to an incredible haul?

A shipping container from Ecuador arrived in a Hong Kong port with an aircraft engine inside, and that engine was hiding 217 kilograms of cocaine worth $246 million, the largest seizure there in 8 years.

During the examination of the container and its contents at the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound customs officers, with the assistance of government aircraft engineers, dismantled the aircraft engine leading to the discovery of multiple suspicious metal components in the middle of the engine. The cocaine was wrapped in soundproof materials and had been placed in eight metal components in the engine.

(HT: Jeff W.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting, but my Fermi Estimator sense calls BS on the $246 million claim. A kilo of coke is worth more than a million bucks? — So a gram is worth more than a thousand? Can’t say I’ve ever gone out and bought an 8-ball myself, but Hollywood tells me that: a) these transactions are in the hundreds of dollars not thousands, b) the amount of white powder in the baggie weighs more than a few tenths of a gram. Let’s call it $25 million.

    Also, what Steve said.

  2. As Spock would say, “fascinating.” Would love to know everything that led up to “Through a risk assessment and data analysis, the customs officers selected a 20-foot container arriving from Ecuador for inspection.”

    Did a company that normally ships bananas from Ecuador all of a sudden try to ship a spare aircraft engine to a noodle shop in Hong Kong? Did they get suspicious because the sender or recipient was named Walter White or Gus Fring? Did customs officials do an “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to pick out the engine crate? Will Chinese authorities blame this crime on Hong Kong protesters and other ‘subversives’? We need MOAR details!

  3. All this would be moot if government ended the war on drugs that says individuals don’t own their own bodies and don’t have a right to decide what they do with their own bodies. Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and 1930s led to a surge in crime and violence as people turned to the underworld. It’s the same with the war on drugs which also sets a dangerous precedent for government infringement in other areas of our lives. Every time a smuggling incident pops up we should use it as an opportunity to call for an end to all drug laws and highlight the ridiculousness of trying to prevent what’s impossible to prevent. If people want to smoke, drink alcohol, drink sugary soda, eat sugary foods, do drugs, or etc. let them.

  4. John Henderson, if your idea occurs, are you ready to accept an unimaginable dystopia? Please give it some thought since we’re in a world wide Covid-19 pandemic that no one anywhere has a clue to who’s carrying this invisible contagion or not with the ability to be passed on by anyone at anytime anywhere.

  5. @luke Vader likely most of the items you cited made this container suspicious. From my friends in Customs I know that they work on the art of detecting the abnormal.

  6. @Gary

    Shipping engines outside of typical channels will raise an eyebrow. The second thing to do is weigh the engine and Xray it. It’s easy enough to call up some peeps and ask what the engine should weigh. And the white stuff will probably look funny on an xray machine.

  7. @Jota

    Fair enough. Though I also think it’s fair to expect the author of the source article in “Maritime Executive,” which is apparently based out of Florida, to catch that ambiguity. Or to a lesser extent, for Gary to do so, given he repeated the figure.

  8. +1 Brad & Jota! I caught the same thing as Brad, that cocaine does not sell for US$1133 per gram on the street! But per xe.com HK$1133 = US$146, which sounds about right. Of course, it does depend on how much it’s cut/ diluted with sugar or baby laxative!

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