Lights, Camera, Cocaine: Man Uses Film Reels to Smuggle $177,000 of Cocaine

Newark Cocaine Film Canisters 001.jpgIt’s the kind of botched drug smuggling scheme you’d expect to see in a Hollywood movie — but this film would have undoubtedly flopped even harder at the box office than “Blow.”

On Wednesday, June 10, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers caught a man attempting to smuggle $177,000 worth of pure Colombian cocaine into the U.S. at Newark Liberty Airport.

The catch? The passenger, Andres Filipe Alean Espinosa, had tried to hide 10 lbs. of cocaine within 36 film canisters. CBP officials found black disks filled with the white stuff tucked between the film strips, which mostly consisted of stock footage.

“Cocaine is a dangerous narcotic, and CBP does its part in keeping these drugs off the streets,” Robert E. Perez, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations, said. “Our officers are determined to protect the American people from these illicit substances.”

Espinosa, a U.S. citizen who had been traveling back into the country from Bogota, Colombia, was promptly arrested and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He now faces federal prosecution for narcotics and smuggling charges.

Cocaine, a highly addictive stimulant drug, is known for its harmful impacts on physical and mental health, as well as its negative social and economic effects.

“People who are addicted to stimulants and attempt to seek help for their substance abuse problem soon discover that there are currently no effective medications that truly alleviate cravings for extremely addictive substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine,” said Arnold Hesnod, Clinical Outreach at Clear Sky Recovery. “This often leaves drug-dependent individuals despondent and trapped in a situation wherein their medical condition has been criminalized, yet the success rate of most conventional drug treatment programs is somewhere between abysmal and nonexistent.”

With most Hollywood studios eschewing traditional 35mm film to shoot movies digitally nowadays, it’s no surprise Espinosa’s ruse seemed a little suspicious to airport officials.