Ever wondered where that Saturday night pill comes from? The likelihood is it was smuggled past British customs. But what does it feel like to be a drug smuggler? A Mixmag writer decided to find out... Writer: Mark White Photographer: Simon Norfolk
NOBODY knows how many drugs get taken each weekend, but even at a conservative estimate there are half a million ecstasy tablets that have to come from somewhere. Some are made in Britain, but most abroad. Which means someone has to smuggle them into this country. Today, the War On Drugs is being fought as fiercely as ever. Home Secretary Jack Straw and 'Drug Czar' Keith Hellawell have stated that there is no chance of our laws being relaxed.
It's a two-pronged assault: Barry Legg's Act should reduce dealing in clubs, and vigilance
by customs should reduce the supply.
But Customs at grassroots level aren't happy. A constant squeeze on resources has led to high-risk destinations, like Amsterdam, being targeted and less attention being given to places like Paris.
Mixmag can reveal some customs officers are considering industrial action in the form of
'working to rule' in a protest over funding. They're also unhappy at changes to working
hours leading to sizeable wage cuts.
What will this do for the Government's strategy? How good are Customs at stopping people? Mixmag decided to test them on their own territory. I'd fly to Amsterdam, strap 25 paracetamols to my leg and see if I got stopped when I returned.
11am Time to fix the bag to my leg. I choose some Stüssy pants as most likely to offer some baggy protection. I shake out 25 paracetamols, put them in a clear plastic bag, fold it over once and tear off some sticky tape. About four strips should be enough, I think, winding it over the bag and fixing it securely to my right thigh. I finish off, hitch up and see how it feels. Fine. You can't see anything and it doesn't interfere with my movement. I've forgotten my razor. Should I shave? Yes - I don't want to give customs any cause for suspicion.