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Smugglers find new methods

From home-made submarines to swallowable pellets made out of condoms, cocaine barons have long resorted to unusual methods to smuggle their merchandise into Europe.

But even the most suspicious customs officer would be unlikely to cast a second glance at plastic buckets, beeswax candles or bird faeces as likely drug hiding places.

Rather than the traditional method of hiding the powdered drug in consignments, smugglers are mixing cocaine with molten plastic before it is turned into items from car dashboards to DVD cases.

This renders the narcotic virtually undetectable by conventional tools such as sniffer dogs.

The underworld has established a network of labs across Europe to turn the consumer durables laced with cocaine back into powdered drugs, with production centred on Spain -- the gateway for an estimated 50pc of the cocaine sent to Europe.