On the first day of Christmas, customs gave to me ... a partridge on a plane? From birds in boxes to drugs in dreadlocks, criminals tried and failed spectacularly at smuggling pretty much everything you can imagine through customs this year. We were inspired by the Customs and Border Protection's recent press release of the top 10 seizures of 2011 to round up our own list of the best of the worst smuggling attempts of the year.
- 55 Turtles in Cookie Boxes: You'd be better off trying your luck with the in-flight snack than trying to smuggle 55 live turtles in cookie boxes aboard a plane. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized the reptiles from passengers who were traveling from Japan. Suprisingly, the turtles survived their trip wrapped in cloth and shoved into cookie boxes.
- A Bear: We'd imagine it would cost you more in overweight luggage fees than a bear is worth. Anti-trafficking officers in Thailand got the cutest surprise when they opened a passenger's bags to find a menagerie of smuggled animals inside, including a bear, two panthers, two leopards, and two monkeys. (The animals were all very young, and small.)
- Cheerleaders: It sounds like the plot of a made-for-TV movie, but a 28-year old man recently plead guilty to smuggling 16 Colombians dressed as cheerleaders into South Florida. The fake cheerleading team was foiled at Miami international airport, where they were pretending to be entering the country to participate in a Florida cheerleading competition.
- Three Partridges: A Pakistani passenger's excuse that he needed birds to help his depression didn't fly with customs officers at Manchester Airport in England when he tried to smuggle in three birds hidden in a cardboard box underneath plates. Sadly, the birds were euthanised upon arrival.
- Drugs in Dreadlocks: That white powder in her hair wasn't dandruff! A woman was arrested earlier this month after attempting to smuggle 1.5 kilograms of cocaine in her dreadlocks on a flight from Brazil to Bangkok. According to the Daily Mail, the woman allegedly agreed to work as a drug mule for just $1,800; the drugs she matted into her hair were worth over $144,400.