DRUG SMUGGLERS MEET U.S. CUSTOMS AND HIGH TECH
DRUG SMUGGLERS MEET U.S. CUSTOMS AND HIGH TECH WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Narcotic smugglers are slick.
They'll use anything and anybody to ply their dangerous trade: Suitcases and huge cargo containers with or without false bottoms, art objects, food, vehicles and vessels, fuel tanks and commercial goods. They will use their own bodies, drug swallowers or "mules" (paid drug runners). Their initial goal is to slip past the U.S. Customs Service, the agency with interdiction authority at the nation's ports of entry. Their ultimate goal is money to feed their greed.
Before the 1980s, air passengers and couriers were number one on Customs' drug seizure hit list. Later, commercial cargo soared in importance. By the mid to late '80s, Customs was seizing huge loads of illegal drugs in cargo and containers courtesy of the "drug lords" who knew what they were doing and how to do it. Professionally manufactured cigarette packs, bottles, furniture, heavy machinery, processed products, etc., have been used to smuggle drugs. In fact, the contraband is sometimes molded to look like statues and other objects. Multiply the following figures by the virtually unlimited number of smuggling methods to appreciate the daunting task that faces Customs: During fiscal 1991 alone, Customs processed over 400 million land, air and sea passengers, 8 million land and sea containers, 121 million vehicles, 287,000 vessels and 700,000 aircraft. Detecting narcotics is no easy task. Helping Customs inspectors meet the challenge is an array of high-tech equipment designed or specified by the agency's research and development experts to unobtrusively detect narcotics. One such system utilizes X-rays that in seconds allows inspectors to examine pallets of cargo, baggage, packages and international mail. For extra dense, heavy or homogeneous items or liquids, inspectors use hand-held dielectrometers to detect hidden or liquefied narcotics. This device uses low-level microwave energy to compare reflected energy to internal frequencies. To examine cavities in cars, boats, aircraft and heavy machinery -- any inaccessible space where drugs may be secreted -- inspectors look through fiberscopes. These small viewers are similar to the ones used by medical professionals. Narcotic smugglers will do anything to get their poison across the borders, but Customs inspectors with the help of high technology will continue to stop more traffickers at the official ports of entry. The U.S. Customs Service's ultimate goal is a drug-free America. -0- 10/16/92 /NOTE: The author of this article is Dennis Shimkoski, who is a public affairs officer with the U.S. Customs Service in Washington./ /CONTACT: Dennis Shimkoski of the U.S. Customs Service, 202-927-2205/ CO: U.S. Customs Service ST: District of Columbia IN: CPR SU:
TW -- DCFNS1 -- 0756 10/16/92 07:32 EDT
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|Date:||Oct 16, 1992|
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