The Cocaine Courier

Eight Miles High

The best story I ever heard about drug smuggling was that of a young female South American courier, or “pony,” and who was bringing cocaine into the United States in glassine pouches that she swallowed; which were then retrieved later when she defecated.

Her mode of transport was commercial air flight.

The scheme worked well for a while until one day while in transit, she developed an acute psychotic reaction that was also accompanied by horrific abdominal pain. She was taken urgently to a hospital as soon as the plane landed. Her blood pressure and pulse were off the roof, she was incoherently screaming, while at the same time was also doubled up by unrelenting abdominal cramps and muscle fasiculations.

This type of presentation creates a certain diagnostic dilemma, because even with trivial disorders, for some reason female Hispanics are often prone to overly exaggerated, hyperventilating histrionics. (Italian women are also good at hysteria; or if hysterically angry sometimes plate smashing.) These theatrics sometimes makes it difficult to quickly separate the wheat from chaff before a definitive treatment is offered.

In the course of being worked up in the emergency room it became apparent on a routine abdominal scout X-ray that she had a colon full of little opaque densities, the cocaine pouches, one of which had burst open. Being absorbed systemically the drug was making her dangerously intoxicated. Who knows, perhaps the tightly packed bag bursting was related to the high altitude barometric pressure drop in the cabin.

Mathematically stated this would be:

P (a ≤ x ≤ b) = ∫ f (x) dx.

Or to simplify

Tbp + ↓ Bp = ≥ f (x) inside bag pressure to seek equilibration.

Or to translate further: Tight inside bag pack pressure + low outside barometric pressure = greater probability for bag to burst.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, the little parcels were urgently retrieved by colonoscopy forceps and the woman’s life was literally saved by astute, expeditious recognition of her problem. She still went to jail, but the doctors involved never tired of telling the story about the time they had made that huge drug score in the Emergency Room on some “really good shit.”


Eight miles high and when you touchdown

You’ll find that it’s stranger than known

Signs in the street that say where you’re going

Are somewhere just being their own

(The Byrds)


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