You Are NOT Unique and THIS Is How You Should Smuggle Drugs: Unintended Lessons from National Geographic’s Locked Up Abroad

Watching Locked Up Abroad you realize that everyone has the same story:

“I was smuggling contraband because I was young and felt invincible–I got caught—how am I going to tell my Dad?—(sniff)—Prison was hell—you’ve got to be strong—My parents forgave me and pulled some strings—etc.”

This makes me question the assumption our culture shares about how “unique” each person really is. I mean, these people are living on the knife-edge of danger, experiencing the exhilarating rush of adventure and adversity that makes each moment seem so intense and life so special—and it’s all the same! Even the superlatives I just used to describe it are clichés distilled from a mash of everyone “who’s ever really lived.”

And if those people aren’t unique, how unique are we, sitting on our safe fat asses at home?

Obviously, this is not the lesson intended by the producers of the show.

Another lesson I’m sure they did not intend to convey was how to smuggle drugs properly:

You need fifteen “mules.” Fourteen of the mules are decoys, strapped to the gills beneath their clothing with packages of baby powder or some other legal substance—no cocaine or heroin at all—trying their damnedest to fit the profile of a drug smuggler.

[Singing out loud with his headphones, to the tune of “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees”]:

Hey hey I’m a smuggler!
People say I’m smuggling around
But I’m too busy smuggling
To put any Federales down…

At the airport, the fourteen fake mules are located in the front and back of the lines, easily picked off by law enforcement. None of the fake mules actually knows who the real mule is or even what contraband is being smuggled–all they’ve been told is “Go down to South American and strap some legal products to your body and we will pay you $10,000.”

Plausible denial, baby!

Overwhelmed by so many fake mules with so much apparent cocaine, all of which has to be tested (“Hey, you forgot to check this package!”), the real mule slips by on his or her way.