WTF?! We've heard plenty of stories about people trying to smuggle computer hardware past border control, but it seems some products in this category are well suited for concealing other items, like drugs. In Australia, two men have been charged over an alleged attempt to smuggle 30kg (66 pounds) of methamphetamine into the country by hiding it inside 3D printers.
The AFP (Australian Federal Police) and the FBI carried out a sting operation called Operation Ironside in which every message posted via the An0m encrypted communications platform was intercepted over three years from 2018. One of the messages allegedly indicated that one of the men had coordinated more than 30 methamphetamine importations into Australia in 2020.
The AFP, working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), then discovered the plot to import 30kg of meth, worth around $30 million, into Australia inside 3D printers.
The agencies intercepted the drugs in the US before they reached Australia. One of the two men was arrested by the Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau in New Taipei City in late July, while the other was arrested in Taoyuan City in October. Both have been charged with illegal transportation of category 2 narcotics and could be sentenced to life in prison in Taiwan if convicted.
Images from the Australian Federal Police show the now-discontinued Flashforge Creator 3 was the smugglers' choice of container. The industrial-grade 3D printer has a door and measures 627 x 485 x 615 mm, which probably goes some way to explaining why it was chosen. It also weighs 52kgs (114 pounds), so the 30kgs of meth was probably going to be spread across several printers.
While not as spacious as 3D printers, laptops are often used to conceal illegal items, such as this knife TSA agent found inside a Gigabyte machine last month.
Most smuggling stories tend to involve people using unusual methods of attaching components to their bodies, including this recent one of a woman who tried to enter China with over 200 Intel CPUs and nine iPhones, worth around $100,000 in total, hidden inside a fake pregnant belly.
There was also a man who tried to smuggle 160 CPUs and 16 folding phones through customs, smugglers who used plastic wrap to attach 256 CPUs to their bodies, and a woman who tried a similar trick with 102 iPhones.