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The Old Cocaine-in-the-Surfboard Trick Didn't Work for One Smuggler

The Old Cocaine-in-the-Surfboard Trick Didn't Work for One Smuggler

It sounds, on the surface, like a genius way to get large quantities of cocaine to your desired destination: Stuff the drugs inside a surfboard.

Most surfboards are comprised of a powdery white polyurethane foam core that's sealed in fiberglass and resin. One could, theoretically, replace some of that foam with Bolivian marching powder and maybe get away with it, though we're certainly not encouraging anyone to try it.

One guy attempted the old cocaine-in-the-surfboard trick at LAX this year, and feds announced this week that he was just sentenced to 5 years behind bars:

Seems like authorities are well aware of the possibilities.

The suspect, 31-year-old Jesse Edgardo Herrera of Pomona, pleaded guilty in spring to possession with intent to distribute narcotics and yesterday was sentenced by a federal judge to 60 months behind bars.

The man had nearly 7 pounds of coke sealed up in a board and was intending to take it Australia Feb. 26 when he was stopped at LAX by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who wanted a closer look, according to a CBP statement:

 ... Officers observed irregularities in the surfboard he had checked with his baggage on an outbound Qantas Airlines flight destined for Sydney, Australia.
The Old Cocaine-in-the-Surfboard Trick Didn't Work for One Smuggler
File photo of surfboard shaping by dakine kane/Flickr

According to CBP, the board was in a case or cover and when agents removed it they smelled "fresh lacquer or spray paint."

That, of course, led to further investigation, including an x-ray, which showed "irregularities" in the board, authorities said. And we're not just talking about too much "rocker," either. Agents then cut it open, according to the statement:

CBP officers then used a saw to cut off the end of the surfboard, exposing four plastic packages inside that collectively contained just over three kilograms of cocaine.

The drugs were worth $750,000 on the streets of Australia, according to the feds. And they say Charlie don't surf.

So, even though it sounds clever, the moral of the story is, Don't try this at home, kids. In 5 years you will have missed the introduction of the iPhone 10, among other things.

Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles, put it this way:

This case shows yet again the lengths to which smugglers will go in an effort to conceal their contraband. It also demonstrates that such subterfuge is frequently futile in the face of our joint enforcement efforts.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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