Watch: Why these Diego Maradona photos shocked Turkish customs officials
Customs officers did a thorough X-ray scan and became suspicious of the 'unusual density' of the paintings and photos
A month after the death of legendary footballer Diego Maradona, a man posing as his die-hard fan was caught at the Istanbul airport in Turkey while smuggling cocaine concealed inside dozens of paintings and photos of the Argentine player.
According to reports, customs officers at the airport recovered 2.6 kg of cocaine hidden inside paintings and photos of the late footballer. The accused, a 72-year-old German national, is of Croatian origin, who had arrived at the Istanbul airport from Colombia. His behaviour had made the officers suspicious.
Customs officers did a thorough X-ray scan of his luggage and a team of sniffer dogs was deployed. The officers became suspicious of the "unusual density" of the paintings and photos.
"At the first look, the man appeared as a big Maradona fan, but it was during scanning with the latest tomographic X-ray scanning device the suspicious density was detected. Then detector dogs reacted. It was understood that the drugs were placed in these sections as special plates," an official said.
A video released by the customs enforcement team of the Turkish ministry of commerce shows how the smuggled narcotics was wrapped in foil paper and stuck between wooden boards used to frame the pictures. When officers removed the backs of the paintings, they found cocaine hidden in tiny plates inside. The banned drugs were hidden in the back of 12 paintings of various sizes. The contraband is estimated to be worth around $2,61,000.
Maradona, the hero of Argentina's 1986 FIFA World Cup win, died of a heart attack on November 25. He was known for his wild lifestyle and was beset with cocaine addiction. Turkey is a popular route for drug smuggling to Europe due to its strategic location.