Busted: Caught By Customs

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Use the arrows to see some of the weirdest things that people tried to smuggle onto aeroplanes

Human skull and skeleton

Two Italian women shocked staff at Munich airport in 2008 when they discovered a human skeleton in their luggage during a routine x-ray scan.

When questioned, the women produced a valid death certificate confirming the remains were those of a family member who died in Brazil 11 years earlier, and they were allowed to proceed on the flight with the human remains.

200 tarantulas

Dutch custom officials at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport confiscated 200 poisonous tarantulas hidden in a couple’s suitcase in 2012.

The live spiders were found amongst other assorted insects including grasshoppers and millipedes, which were handed over to Dutch animal welfare authorities.

10 human eye balls in a jam jar

10 human eyeballs were found floating in a jam-jar and seized by officials at Stansted Airport in 2007.

Not a lot is known about why someone was walking around with five pairs of eyeballs, or what happened to them once they were confiscated.

Severed seal head

In 2004, a man was stopped by Logan International Airport security when it was discovered he had the severed head of a seal in his hand luggage.

A biology professor, the man claimed he had come across the dead seal and wanted to use its head for educational purposes. Unfortunately for him, federal wildlife laws make it illegal to remove dead animal parts, and he was forced to leave the head behind.

2 month old tiger cub

Officials discovered a sedated 2-month-old tiger cub in a suitcase full of stuffed animal toys when it went through an X-ray scan at Bangkok International Airport in 2010.

The 31-year-old woman who was attempting to smuggle the young cub had hoped to fetch up to £2,000 on the Iranian black market. The woman was arrested and the tiger was sent to a wildlife conservation.

Cow brains

In 2012, 420 pounds of cow brains were confiscated at Cairo’s International Airport from three men who planned to sell them to Egyptian restaurants (where cow brains are considered a delicacy).

Officials claimed the cow brains were destroyed after they had been confiscated.

Woody doll (Toy Story), small toy gun

London Heathrow security confiscated a miniature toy gun from a Toy Story Woody doll earlier in 2014.

Officials refused to comment on the incident, saying “We do not comment on specific incidents or details of our security regime.” The weirdest part is, Woody figures are not normally sold with a miniature gun (the holster is in fact empty) so it’s not clear where the object came from.

Live Crocodile

A live crocodile smuggled onto a small domestic plane travelling within the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010 caused 20 people to die when the plane tragically crashed.

When the crocodile escaped from the bag, it caused the terrified passengers to rush towards the front of the small plane, sending it off-balance and causing it to crash land despite the heroic efforts of the pilot.

£52,000 worth of gold fashioned into coat hangers

A traveller in Taiwan came up with an innovative idea to smuggle £52,000 of gold into South Korea – by shaping it into a bunch of coat hangers.

Unfortunately the idea wasn’t smart enough because he was arrested by custom officers the Incheon International Airport, probably because they grew suspicious as to why he had so many coat hangers.

5 month old baby

Two parents were caught attempting to smuggle their 5-month-old baby in their hand luggage in 2012.

The baby was discovered when it was sent through an X-ray scanner at Sharjah Airport, exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation. The parents had hidden the infant because they did not have correct visa, but their actions led them to be charged for endangering the baby’s life.

3 land mines

Three land mines packed with shrapnel were found in a woman's luggage at an airport in New Jersey in 2012.

The women was travelling to an explosives demonstration in San Francisco, and despite missing her first flight she was allowed to rebook for a later flight after having her land mines confiscated, as no explosives or detonators were found.

A stuffed armadillo complete with cowboy hat and guns

Taxidermy is always controversial, but in September 2004 Sydney officials seized a stuffed Texan-styled Armadillo complete with armadillo-sized hat and holsters.

Intended as a gift, the Armadillo breached strict Australian laws on wildlife importation, although they joked in a statement: "bad taste should have been enough of a reason not to bring [it] into the county".

Wooden Egyptian sarcophagus

A 3,000-year-old Egyptian wooden sarcophagus was found at Miami Airport from a shipment from Spain in 2008.

The importer couldn’t prove sufficient evidence to identify themselves as the owner, so the relic was returned to Egypt, where it was discovered that the item had been stolen and reported missing 125 years earlier.

Bird head in soap

In a bizarre find, Baltimore customs officials came across a bird’s head embalmed in a bar of black soap.

The traveller, who had arrived in the U.S from London, was fined just under £200 after it was discovered that he was carrying 3.6 pounds of beef and 3 pounds of chicken bouillon, as well as the soap-encased bird. He had previously denied that he was carrying any animal products.

13 Iguanas

Heathrow officials discovered 13 endangered iguanas concealed in a suitcase earlier in 2014.

The lizards, which were due to be taken to Germany, had been stashed in socks and left with no water and when found were extremely dehydrated. One sadly died during the trip. Two women were arrested on suspicion of importation offences.

A rocket launcher

In 2012, an AT-4 rocket launcher was found in a checked bag at an airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Apparently the expended rocket launcher posed no dangers, but certainly startled customs officials when it was detected by screeners!

51 live tropical fish

A woman was arrested in June 2005 for attempting to sneak 51 live tropical fish under her skirt.

The discovery was made at Melbourne's airport in Australia, where officials became suspicious after hearing mysterious noises coming from the woman. The 45-year-old was sentenced to a nine-month jail term.

75 live snakes

In a case that sounds made up, but is totally true, a woman attracted the suspicion of custom officials in Stockholm, Sweden by repeatedly scratching her chest.

Turns out, the woman had 75 live snakes concealed within her bra, as well as six lizards under her shirt. The 42-year-old woman was arrested and charged with smuggling.

A chainsaw

In 2012, someone tried to bring a fully gassed-up power chainsaw through a checkpoint in Elmira Corning Regional Airport.

Surprisingly, he was allowed to board the flight with the chainsaw, he just needed to remove the fuel, which was confiscated by the TSA.

A woman

A 48-year-old woman was discovered in a suitcase by U.S Customs and Border Protection in 2013.

Originally from Thailand, the woman was hoping to be smuggled across the U.S – Mexico border, after being previously deported.