We are here on the Blind Side, Dealing with airport security can be a nerve-wracking experience, particularly if you have something to hide! And if not, how about the sniffer dogs that appear to show a little too much interest in your baggage? From the two migrants who took ‘sleeping on the job’ to a whole new level, to the history buff who carried a potentially explosive device onto a passenger plane, here are 15 Craziest Things Found by Airport Security.
15. Migrants in Mattresses
A seemingly innocent scene took a sinister turn when border security officers discovered two stowaways sewn into mattresses at a checkpoint between Melilla, on the north African coast, and Morocco.
The two migrants were found in single bed mattresses, wrapped in plastic and tied to the top of a van, in what was said to be, a desperate bid to reach Europe, from their home in Africa.
One man, dressed in a black and white t-shirt with black jeans, and the other, in a blue Reebok t-shirt, had taken a slightly unorthodox approach to reach their destination.
Footage showed officers at the border, lifting the mattresses off the van and slashing them open, to reveal their human contents.
It’s hard to say who would have been more surprised, as the men emerged from within their stuffing-filled hiding place, looking slightly dazed, but none the worse for wear.
Neither man required medical attention, and both were promptly arrested.
Spanish senator Jon Inarritu said with no safe routes to request asylum, this type of situation would continue to occur.
Thought to be sub-Saharen youths, the men were believed to be the first to try this unusual method of undercover travel, with gangs now expected to start trying this avenue to smuggle migrants.
It’s certainly a unique solution. You would have to think they would get top marks for creativity.
14. A Cannonball
Clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed, a history buff decided it would be okay to pack a late-18th century cannonball into his carry-on luggage.
Fort Lauderdale border security, however, had other ideas.
If it had been a replica souvenir from a gift shop, the situation may have been different, however this was the real deal, having been found whilst diving near a shipwreck.
The first indication that all was not well, was when the man headed through security with his overweight checked baggage.
Upon further investigation, security staff found the cannonball and promptly cleared the airport to investigate. Not only had the passenger tried to board with a dangerous explosive, but 290 others were delayed from departure because of it.
Now you might think to yourself, what could be so dangerous about a cannonball that has sat on the bottom of the ocean for, what could have been, several centuries? Well, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), they are still considered extremely dangerous.
In fact, they can hold their explosive properties for years and go off with absolutely no warning whatsoever, effectively making them among the worst travelling companions!
The cannonball, although covered in coral, was found to be explosively viable. This triggered an evacuation of the checked baggage area and a visit from the TSA explosives specialist and the bomb squad.
No doubt our hapless traveler would have been left very red faced. Innocent or not, it would have been an interesting flight home.
Next time he might think twice before packing an explosive device in his checked baggage, without notifying the right people and/or following the correct procedures.
13. A Corpse
Shipping a dead body can be an expensive business, one that many just simply cannot afford.
So, what do you do, if you find yourself in a situation, where Aunt Mildred has popped her clogs on the other side of the world, and her last wishes were to be buried in the local cemetery with her late husband?
Cremation is out of the question because you don’t want her spirit haunting you for the next 50 years, and transportation in the cargo hold of a passenger plane is going to cost you the next three months wages.
Why not accompany Aunt Mildred home as a passenger? Surely airport security won’t notice if she doesn’t appear to be the chatty type?
This may sound a little crazy, but a similar situation occurred in 2016, when Atlanta International Airport security staff watched in horror as, what appeared to be, a dead body came through their x-ray machine.
The decaying body, dressed in beige clothing, was wheeled into the security area, and presented for checking.
As it turned out, the crusty passenger was just a prop from the set of the horror movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and not the corpse of someone’s late relative.
Still a little creepy, but in this case, perfectly plausible.
12. A Baby
It seems there is no end to people’s stupidity, when it comes to smuggling items onto a plane.
With no regard for their child’s safety whatsoever, a couple gave new meaning to the sign ‘baby on board’.
When travelling out of a Sharjar airport in July 2012, they were caught attempting to board a plane with their 5-month-old baby stowed away in their carry-on luggage!
How they thought they could get away with it, let alone consider it acceptable, we will never know, but the baby was very lucky to survive the ordeal.
Without a suitable visa for their baby son, the mother and father were unable to take him back home, so they hatched a plan to smuggle him, unseen and onto the plane.
The fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the dreaded x-ray machine.
A blessing, rather than a curse in this case, attendants alerted the authorities when they discovered the very much alive, and suitably comfortable, contents of the suitcase.
The case was handed over to prosecutors and it is unclear what action was taken against the parents.
Perhaps stuffing them into a bag for an hour or two might have proved punishment enough.
11. A Tiger Cub
Smuggling animals is a risky, but lucrative business, which is why many traffickers do so each year, in the hope of reaping a large reward.
A reward was not on the cards, however, for a Thai woman flying from Bangkok to Iran in 2010, with an unexpected passenger hidden in her luggage.
Hoping to disguise a sedated tiger cub, she had filled her bag with stuffed tiger toys. This didn’t fool the eagle-eyed scanner, who discovered the two-month old baby tiger after putting her oversized suitcase through the x-ray machine.
Although she attempted to avoid prosecution by claiming the bag wasn’t hers, she was arrested, and the cub was sent to a wildlife conservation center in Bangkok.
Wildlife smuggling charges can fetch up to four years in prison and a US $1,300 fine.
Not only was this woman extremely stupid, this was an act of cruelty that could have easily resulted in the death of the cub.
The woman, who was said to have had no experience dealing with tigers, could have expected US $3,200 for the tiger had she sold it on the black market in Iran, where exotic pets are popular.
It was not immediately known if the cub was wild or captive-bred.
10. Live Pigeons
It’s hard to decide whether this guy is extremely brave, or extremely stupid. Imagine if you will, a couple of pigeons, taped to the inside of your pants, for up to 14 hours! To say, they might get a little upset by this, would surely be an understatement.
But this scenario was the reality for an alleged bird smuggler who was caught with live pigeons down his pants at Melbourne Airport Customs in 2009.
The 23-year-old Meadow Heights man had flown from the Middle East to Australia with the two pigeons stuffed in his pants, and had two eggs in a vitamin container, plant seeds and undeclared samples of eggplant in his luggage.
What he was planning to do with any of it, remains a mystery, however, the smuggling of wildlife is considered a serious crime, and with it comes serious penalties.
In fact, in Australia, the maximum penalty is 110,000 Australian dollars and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
The term ‘hen pecked’ certainly takes on a whole new meaning here, that’s for sure!
9. A Bazooka
In 2013, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered 1,813 firearms in carry-on luggage, one of which was a World War II-era bazooka!
Really? You say.
Security raised the alarm when the bazooka was found in a passenger’s luggage at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in the last week of December 2012.
Why anyone would think they could smuggle a bazooka onto a plane at probably the busiest time of the year, is another question you may like to ponder, but for one foolish traveler, that’s exactly what they did.
A common anti-tank weapon used in World War II, they are known to carry a high explosive charge, weighing over 1.5 pounds.
Not to be messed with under any circumstances, the baggage area at O’Hare Airport was quickly evacuated, five flights were delayed over an hour and countless passengers’ plans altered.
The TSA called in explosive experts and the item was removed.
Another bazooka of the same era was found at the same airport just months later, with TSA agent Bob Burns saying it is a weekly occurrence for airline passengers’ bags to contain dangerous-looking military items, however most are novelty.
The stupidity of some people is beyond belief!
8. $1.2 Million Gold Bars
How this lucrative package happened to get onto the plane in the first place, is perhaps a question for another day, but the fact the person who smuggled it on, left it there, is the most surprising of all.
Twenty-four gold bars, with an estimated value of U.S. $1.1 million were left in the bathroom of a plane belonging to private carrier Jet Airways. The plane was travelling from Mumbai to Bangkok, and the owner of the gold bars, has never been found.
The bars were found hidden in two bags by cleaning staff who were carrying out a routine clean of the plane’s toilet, after its landing at Kolkata airport.
If you think this is odd, apparently it isn’t the first incident like this, with India witnessing a sharp rise in gold smuggling since an increase in import duties dampened demand for the precious metal.
Rivalling China as the world’s biggest gold consumer, gold is hugely popular in India, particularly during religious festivals and wedding seasons. It is also the second-biggest contributor behind oil to India’s massive current account deficit, with the import duties put into place to reduce its demand.
7. Live Baby Eels
All airlines have rules as to what they deem acceptable for passengers to carry on in their hand luggage, check-in, or declare. These rules are expected to be strictly adhered to, and most, if not all, are self-explanatory and understandable. However, there are still some people who, for one reason or another, think they can ignore, break, or bend the rules, with little consequence.
In fact, it truly is beyond belief, what some people think they can get away with.
Take, for example, the couple who decided it was a good idea to smuggle 60 kilograms of live baby eels into their luggage and onto a flight to China.
The Chinese nationals were handed a 10-month suspended sentence and fined US$7,800 in a French court in October 2019, with the prosecutor saying the case formed part of a ‘new form of trafficking that is exploding’.
The 20-year-old woman and 44-year-old man were attempting to smuggle young European eels or glass eels when they were stopped at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on a transit stop from the Toulouse city in south west France.
The eels, that can fetch around US$5,600 a kilogram, were found in water-filled plastic bags inside their four suitcases.
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case, with another four Chinese traffickers arrested for smuggling glass eels last year.
The Spain-Portugal bust was described as ‘the biggest wildlife crime in Europe’, with 460 kilograms of glass eels with a market value of over US $490 million, seized in Southern Spain.
According to experts, the eels, protected since 2009, are quickly declining, due to a combination of overfishing, pollution and river dams blocking their migration routes.
Authorities have been trying to tackle the smugglers, who take the eels to Asian countries where they are raised into adults then culled for their meat.
6. Lipstick Weapons
When we think of airport security, we typically think of the search for dangerous weapons, the type that could in the worst-case scenario, bring a plane down. We don’t for a minute think a women’s cosmetic case could harbor a lethal weapon, one capable of causing serious harm.
But, surprisingly, in addition to the 828 firearms found in carry-on bags in 2012, 210 of which had live rounds in the chamber, the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) confiscated not one, but two weapons posing as harmless lipstick applicators.
The first cleverly designed device was found in a young woman’s carry-on bag. Instead of applying a colorful tint to the wearer’s lips, the innocent looking lipstick case, was a stun gun in disguise, with the ability to deliver a 350,000 volt to its victim.
The passenger is said to have surrendered the device without incident.
Another incident, like the first, resulted in the finding of a five-centimeter blade, hidden inside a lipstick case.
Surprisingly, both were purchased online for less than $25, a real concern for airport security across the globe.
And if that’s not problematic enough, imagine the absentminded purchaser who accidentally puts the stun gun to her lips instead of her lipstick. Ouch!
5. Chameleon Hat
In 2002, a 17-year-old arriving into Manchester Airport on a flight from Dubai had the most unusual headwear. Security staff were keen to speak to the passenger when she disembarked from the plane, wearing what appeared to be, a live chameleon on her head.
How she got onto the plane in the first place, was not immediately known, however Manchester Airport security were none too keen to let the incident slide.
The rare chameleon lizard had been purchased at a market in Saudi Arabia and was now acting as a colorful accessory to the young lady’s head scarf.
Passengers on the same plane thought it was simply a plastic accessory, until they saw it moving. Said to be the teenager’s exotic pet, ‘Hattie’, had to be turned over to the Customs and Excise department.
The lizard, famed for its ability to change skin color, was so rare it was on a list of endangered species.
This piece of information was news to the chameleon’s new owner, and she was certain to have been upset when customs stepped in to seize her pet.
The colorful creature was so tame that it happily sat on her head and had been bought from her home in Dubai.
A visit to relatives in Manchester, called for her scaly friends’ companionship, and she hadn’t thought twice about taking it on board.
Considered one of their more unusual seizures, a custom spokesman said that aside from its rarity, it was the fact it was being worn as a hat, that had created the most interest.
Without the right paperwork for poor Hattie, the chameleon was classified as an overstayer in England and sent to live with species experts.
4. A Samurai Sword
Heading onto a plane with a large Samurai sword in your carry-on luggage doesn’t seem like a very good idea, considering the damage it could do if it ended up in the wrong hands.
But a man traveling from Newark Liberty International Airport to Sao Paulo, Brazil, obviously didn’t see a problem with it, using its hefty price tag as an excuse.
When stopped by airport security prior to boarding his flight, he explained that the sword was really expensive, so it would be fine to bring it onto the plane.
Unfortunately, for our sword-carrying passenger, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wasn’t interested in his bizarre logic, and requested he check it in as a checked luggage item.
It’s hard to say where this man has been hiding in the last 18 years, but security checks have advanced ten-fold in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9-11. How he thought he could get away with placing a deadly weapon in the overhead luggage compartment of a passenger plane, without question, is really beyond comprehension.
And strangely enough, no amount of promising you won’t harm anyone with it, is likely to sway security staff nowadays. Not surprised? Neither were we.
3. 200 Tarantulas
It can only be hoped that the security officers at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport, who checked this German couple’s luggage, didn’t suffer from arachnophobia.
The couple were said to be awaiting a connecting flight on their way back from Peru, when they were stopped by customs officials and their bag checked. Imagine their surprise, when sitting inside were 200 bags containing rare Mexican red-kneed tarantulas! Not only were there 200 of them, they were also alive, and mildly poisonous to humans. Not the ideal passenger, if they were to get out of their confined space mid-flight, that’s for sure!
Accompanying the tarantulas on their trip of a lifetime were also a host of grasshoppers, millipedes and beetles, which upon being revealed, attempted to make their escape.
The insects and arachnids had all been taken from the wild and were destined for an unidentified Swiss dealer, whose home was later raided. A further 665 tarantulas and 72 flesh-eating centipedes were found there.
It’s hard to imagine how this person could sleep at night, with that many dangerous insects lurking about under the cover of darkness.
2. C-4 Explosives
Unlike our other passengers, who have clearly tried to flout the law, either that or they’re completely clueless, this gentleman claims he simply forgot he was in possession of a powerful explosive device! What makes this story even more difficult to comprehend, is the man in question is a member of the Army Green Beret.
In January 2012, a 19-year-old army private was found to be carrying 1.5 ounces of C-4 hidden in a tobacco can.
He is said to have stolen it during a training course, believed it wouldn’t be detected by screeners and security agents, and had no intention of using it for harm.
Well that’s how the authority’s story goes. He had another version, telling investigators he had forgotten it was in his bag.
A demolitions expert with the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group, the man said he was returning home following his third deployment to Afghanistan and was inadvertently carrying the substance.
Apparently, he had a habit of carrying at least two blocks on his person throughout any given operation, and it made its way into his carry-on bag. Yea, right. An unlikely story, given this was his second run-in with airport authorities. His last was whilst leaving Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Christmas Eve en route to Texas, when he was found to have a military smoke grenade on his carry-on.
Innocent mistake? We think not.
1. Cocaine in Cookies
A Guatemalan man who landed at Newark International Airport in New Jersey in June 2014, got a little more than he bargained for, when trying to smuggle three pounds of cocaine, disguised as an afternoon snack.
The cocaine, hidden inside cookies, was seized and the man detained when it was revealed the baked goods didn’t just contain chocolate chips, but an illicit substance.
With a street value of approximately US $52,000, the cookies were found in three of his checked bags, following a routine inspection.
How he managed to place the drugs inside the cookies remains a mystery, however with drug distribution continuing to rise, customs and border protection officers are always on the lookout for unique concealment methods. In this instance, it looks like their detective skills were finely honed.
Next time you’re sitting in the airport lounge, about to get on your flight, double check your luggage. Have you got a baby hidden in a backpack? What about a large family of tarantulas? Either would be obvious, hard to believe we know! Also, check out our other cool stuff showing up on screen right now. See you next time!