After Death on Airliner, Autopsy’s Grim Discovery: 246 Packs of Cocaine
LONDON — A man who died after going into convulsions on a flight from Colombia to Japan was found to have swallowed 246 tiny packages of cocaine, officials said.
The plane, an Aeromexico flight from Bogotá to Tokyo, made an emergency landing very early Friday morning at Hermosillo airport in the Mexican state of Sonora after the man, a 42-year-old Japanese citizen, became ill, according to a statement from the state prosecutor’s office there on Monday. He died before medical help could reach him, the prosecutor’s office said.
An autopsy found that he had 246 plastic parcels of less than an inch long in his stomach and bowels, the statement said. It determined that his death had been caused by a surge in blood pressure, the result of a drug overdose, probably after one of the parcels ruptured. The man’s name was given in the statement only as Udo N.
The grim discovery was a reminder of the global demand for recreational drugs, and of the extreme methods traffickers adopt to satisfy it. Recent reports on the United States’ southern border have detailed smuggling by methods as mundane as mules with backpacks, and as elaborate as catapults and compressed-air guns.
But it also highlighted an increasing problem in Colombia. According to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, seizures of cocaine in Colombia have increased sharply in the past decade. In 2016, the last available figure, more than 1,100 tons of the drug were seized.
And, in a report released last year, the agency said Colombia had more land used to make cocaine than ever in its history, at 422,550 acres by the end of 2017. Despite a 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, that also sought to discourage the illegal drug trade, the amount of land used to produce coca leaf has gone up on average about 45 percent a year since 2013, the report said.
The remaining 198 passengers on board the Aeromexico flight Friday evening continued their journey to Japan.