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How Not to Smuggle Cocaine: Atop Your Head, Under a Hairpiece

EntertainmentHow Not to Smuggle Cocaine: Atop Your Head, Under a Hairpiece

Drug traffickers have resorted to many crafty, hard-to-detect methods of disguising what they are up to.

This is not one of those stories.

The Spanish police on Tuesday announced the arrest of a Colombian man whose idea of hiding half a kilogram of cocaine — more than a pound — was to put the package, a few inches thick, on top of his head and cover it with an oversized toupee.

The man, whose identity was not revealed, was detained last month at Barcelona’s airport after he landed on a flight from Bogotá. He attracted the attention of airport police officers both because he appeared nervous and because of the size of the bulging hairpiece that he wore under a hat, according to the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.

The national police tweeted photos of the suspect, a 65-year-old man, on Tuesday. A large gray lump, apparently wrapped in cellophane, was perched atop his mostly bald head — one image showed him with the toupee balanced precariously over his head, and one without.

The tweet said, “detained in Barcelona with drugs in his toupee,” but it could not be verified whether the package in the photos was a stand-in for the illicit cargo — which, according to La Vanguardia, had a street value of 30,000 euros, or almost $34,000.

The authorities did not immediately comment on the man’s whereabouts or say why the arrest had not been announced earlier.

The Spanish police have long been on the lookout for so-called mules, who are often ordinary people selected by criminal networks to transport cocaine and other illegal products on their behalf, mostly originating from Latin America.

The most spectacular and embarrassing recent airport cocaine seizure in Spain concerned a member of the security staff of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. A Brazilian Air Force sergeant was arrested at Seville’s airport during a stopover, after 39 kilograms of cocaine were found in his suitcase.

The man, Sgt. Manoel Silva Rodrigues, was part of an advance team supporting Mr. Bolsonaro’s trip to Japan for a meeting of Group of 20 leaders. The Brazilian military said this month that it would send its own investigators to Seville to interrogate the sergeant, who has been held there in prison.

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