Police in Guatemala have arrested a man attempting to leave the country with nearly $50,000 concealed in his stomach, a tactic that officials say is becoming an increasingly popular way to transport illicit funds.
On March 22, Guatemalan police arrested a man after X-ray images showed that his intestines contained dozens of suspicious-looking capsules, a common method used by so-called “drug mules” to move their product across borders. When he was taken to a police hospital and treated, officials discovered that he had swallowed 59 capsules each containing $800 in cash, totaling $47,200. Another $4,000 was found concealed in his bags.
The man, who authorities say was attempting to board a flight to Panama, has been identified as Alberto Perez Laparra (pictured above).
InSight Crime Analysis
According to Guatemalan officials, swallowing cash is an increasingly popular technique of smuggling illicit money, due to the difficulty of detecting it. While it is still common for individuals to carry the cash under their clothes or hidden in their luggage, police dogs can be trained to detect the odor of the ink used on dollars and euros, so these methods are more risky.
As InSight Crime has reported, another popular method involves the use of prepaid cards, which are relatively easy to conceal and do not generally arouse suspicion.
It is no surprise that Perez was bound for Panama. As the State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report notes, lax regulations and a booming financial industry make the country a major hotspot for money laundering.