Liquid cocaine has allowed smugglers to avoid detection as they pass through airport customs but the risk of death from the condom or wrap it is contained in bursting is “very high”.
Drug cartel and narco-terrorist operations have rapidly expanded in the region in the past eight years.
Following a boom of liquid cocaine trafficking, which originated in South America in 2011, these groups have developed more complex ways to transport it.
“When a person is taken for a secondary check with a scanner or tomography, the swallowed cocaine capsules can be mistakenly seen as intestines, or ‘bag of gases’,” said Johan Obdola, president of the International Organisation for Security and Intelligence.
“The risk of death using this method is very high. To make cocaine from coca leaves, drug cartels use ethanol, acetone, gasoline, ether, chloroform, sulphuric acid, kerosene, lime, hydrochloric acid, among other chemicals. One person can carry up to one kilo of liquid cocaine in his or her body.”
Other ways of transporting the drug is by impregnating clothes.
“When they reach their destination, the clothes are mixed with chemicals to get the cocaine,” he said. “This method is used in minor scale with mules or major scale when clothes for retail stores are imported in containers. In both cases, after the clothes are dry, they are sprayed with other chemicals to hide the cocaine.”
Magnetic resonance imaging, a technique involving spectroscopy, can trace liquid cocaine in bottles where 500 grams of the drug can be dissolved in a litre of water.
“One of the latest methods to transport cocaine is using ‘cream cocaine’ which can be concealed in shampoos, hair conditioner as well as hand, body and face cream.”
He said the UAE was effective in tackling drugs but it would need to establish a more proactive intelligence sharing communication with governments where the problem originates.