Two drug smugglers who had swallowed $21,500 worth of their inventory were arrested in separate incidents at Philadelphia International Airport earlier this month, officials said yesterday.
Customs and Border Protection officials said the so-called “swallowers” ingested a combined 1.5 pounds of hashish that had been stored in tiny plastic pellets, which are typically made from latex gloves and condoms.
The first of the swallowing smugglers, Sanchez Smith, 20, was questioned by customs officers after he arrived at Philly International on Sept. 18 on a flight from Jamaica, said Steve Sapp, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman.
Smith, who intended to catch another flight to Bermuda, allegedly admitted to Customs officials that he was a smuggler, Sapp said.
Smith spent about a week in a local hospital, where he eventually passed 74 pellets that contained 469.8 grams of hashish, worth about $13,000, according to Customs.
He was released from the hospital on Saturday and turned over to Pennsylvania State Police, Sapp said.
Customs officials arrested another alleged smuggler, Shakai Darrell, 25, after they questioned him at Philly International on Friday, Sapp said.
Smith had also traveled from Jamaica with the intention of catching a flight to Bermuda.
He was released to Philadelphia police on Monday, after he had passed 38 pellets of hash and one pellet of marijuana at a local hospital, Sapp said.
The pellets weighed 300 grams and were worth about $8,500.
Sapp said that investigators believed that Smith and Darrell were part of the same drug-smuggling ring.
“It’s very difficult to detect [swallowers],” Sapp said.
“It’s extremely dangerous work. If one of those pellets is breached inside their body, it can end up killing them.”
Customs officials in Philadelphia made nine hashish seizures with a combined weight of less than a pound last year.
By DAVID GAMBACORTA