With the rise of drug mules being used to smuggle drugs into the UK, a new body scanner at Birmingham Airport is going to make their lives that bit more difficult and Britain’s streets a lot safer.
The new X-ray device “strips” anyone suspected of carrying drugs in their stomach and reveals whether or not they are a “swallower”. Prior to the introduction of the high-tech gadget, customs officers had to take suspects to a hospital for an X-ray but now a scan can be done there and then and trained officers can see instantly whether there are drugs concealed in the stomach.
Birmingham airport recently had a case of a man who had swallowed 60 packages of drugs but the airport’s record is 125! The thumb size pellets made from a waxy substance contained around a kilo of cocaine with a street value of about £40,000.
The financial rewards for the drug mules may be high but so is the risk. If one of the pellets breaks in the stomach, the cocaine leaks into the body and kills the carrier in a matter of seconds.
In the last two weeks UK Customs officers have seized 18 kilos of drugs worth almost a million pounds and Steve Roper, a detection manager for the UK Border Agency, hopes that the new developments will send a “robust message" to both drugs barons and mules.
Similar scanners have been used in America for some time and, despite concerns from civil liberty groups over privacy, travellers seem resigned to the possible indignity on the grounds that it saves time and makes them feel safer.