Drugged monkeys and coke-filled suitcases — just some of the things found on planes
‘Welcome to Air Cocaine. We will be high in the sky today. Please enjoy your flight.’
New Delhi/Jakarta — Indonesia’s top airline executive is set to be fired for allegedly ordering a classic Harley-Davidson motorbike to be secretly shipped into the country on a new Airbus jet, the latest in a long line of smuggling incidents in the global aviation industry.
Anything from iPhones and iPads to gold and drugged monkeys have been smuggled on commercial aircraft in recent years. In the case of Indonesia, smuggling happens “often and under various means, and through many channels,” finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday, as it was announced that PT Garuda Indonesia’s CEO would be fired.
Luxury fashion on Korean Air
The widow and daughter of Korean Air’s late chair Cho Yang-ho were charged with using the airline to smuggle luxury goods worth nearly 90-million won ($75,000) into the country between January 2012 and May 2018. The items included clothes, fashion bags and earthenware, and were smuggled aboard Korean Air planes disguised as items for the airline. A South Korean court issued suspended sentences for them in June.
Gold on Singapore Airlines
Indian customs officials arrested a cabin crew member from Singapore Airlines in 2018, alleging he was wearing almost $50,000 worth of gold jewellery under his uniform, the South China Morning Post reported, citing local media. The person was planning to hand over the smuggled goods to an agent at a New Delhi hotel in return for less than $400, the report said.
Clothes on Vietnam Air
In 2014, Tokyo police arrested a cabin attendant from Vietnam Airlines on suspicion of smuggling stolen clothes into Vietnam. The airline later suspended five other crew members on suspicion of smuggling. This wasn’t the first incident linked to Vietnam Air. In 2002, its employees arriving in Hanoi on a flight from Dubai were found carrying gold, mobile phones and other goods, according to a local newspaper report.
In 2014, Sudanese authorities thwarted a traveler’s attempt to smuggle 20 anaesthetised monkeys out of the country. The monkeys were completely sedated when discovered in the passenger’s baggage at Khartoum airport, and later handed over to authorities.
Chinese military packages
In 2016, a former manager for an unspecified international airline was charged with smuggling packages for Chinese military officers stationed at the UN in New York. The person worked as a station chief at Newark Liberty International Airport, and smuggled the packages on flights to China in exchange for benefits including discounted liquor purchased from diplomatic duty-free shops. The contents of the packages weren’t revealed.
‘Air cocaine’ pilots
In April, a French court sentenced two former air force pilots to six years in prison after 26 suitcases stashed with cocaine were found on their Falcon jet, according to a BBC report. The case, dubbed “Air Cocaine”, started in 2013 when police searched the jet headed for Saint-Tropez from the Dominican Republic. Five other people were sentenced for their involvement, including the ringleader of the operation, who was given 18 years in prison.
Fakes on a plane
US officials in September seized eight counterfeit Honda airbags at Ontario International Airport that arrived in two express packages from China. If genuine, the airbags would have a suggested retail price of nearly $5,000, US customs and border protection said. The fakes are typically used to replace original airbags after a vehicle is involved in a wreck, putting motorists at risk, according to US authorities.