Colombian plods got an unexpected break in their struggle to prevent drugs being smuggled into the country's prisons: crims using a specially trained pigeon to carry narcotics to their chums doing porridge overloaded the bird, causing it to come down early and wind up in the hands of the local Old Bill.
The airborne narco-payload and its feathered transporter came down near a prison in the northeastern city of Bucaramanga, according to the BBC.
"We found the bird about a block away from the prison trying to fly over with a package, but due to the excess weight it could not accomplish its mission," said Jose Angel Mendoza, a top cop with the Bucaramanga force.
"This is a new case of criminal ingenuity," added the reluctantly impressed Colombian lawman.
Reportedly, homing pigeons have previously been used to carry mobile phone SIM cards to inmates of jails in the region: but useful quantities of drugs are apparently a new departure. According to the police, the bird had been loaded with a hefty 45 grammes of marijuana and cocaine.
The enormous narcotics traffic between Latin and North America has led to terrible violence not just in Colombia but across the region, and led smugglers to adopt increasingly ingenious methods in their quest to get consignments to destinations. Quite apart from specially trained prison-penetrating pigeons, the first true submarine purpose-built for drug smuggling was seized last year from traffickers just across the Colombian border in Ecuador.
According to the Beeb, the unnamed avian narcotraficante of Bucaramanga is now being held by the "ecological police", though there is no suggestion that the flying charlie-carrier will have to do any bird. ®