It’s a widely regarded truth that flowers can bring a smile to your face. But due to some ingenious miscreants in the drug smuggling industry, certain floral offerings may have a much more powerful effect.
Colombia is the second largest world exporter of flowers and also, more famously, a leader in cocaine production.
And now, as drug traffickers find more and more devilish ways to sneak the drug onto the international market, Valentine’s Day has become a red letter day for both industries. Flowers are the new conduit.
In 2018, they discovered more than 400 kilos of cocaine in flower shipments.
Because of this, farms like Ximena Rodriguez’ have to operate under strict safety measures where cameras monitor every step of the process to make it difficult for smugglers.
“We are a Vats certified farm. It is an alliance that businesses make to ensure that exports are free from illegal activities. Within that alliance, we must protect the selection and hiring of our workers, of the suppliers and of all the packaging material that is required for export,” says Rodriguez.
Barcodes trace the flowers from origin and trucks are checked for hidden compartments and then sealed before embarking.
They will only be opened upon arrival at the airport where the police inspection begins immediately.
More than 400,000 boxes of flowers have gone through these scanners in the last month and at least 27,000 have been checked by hand by a hundred police officers.
The measure appears to be working as police drew a blank on all 600 million stems exported Valentine’s Day 2020.