The Guinness World Records is a compendium of amazing feats, natural wonders, human achievements, and astounding facts from around the globe. Aspiring record-breakers compete to have their names included in its hallowed pages, and some of the most famous names in the world are to be found within the reference guide's yearly volumes. The snippets of information contained in the World Records are heartwarming, disgusting, morbid, macabre, or downright ridiculous. The following are some of the most flabbergasting drug-related Guinness World Records on the books.
Most ingenious drug muleIn midwinter, 2011, officials at the Bucaramanga jail in Colombia noticed a pigeon flapping about on the ground outside the fence. Upon investigating, they discovered a 1.6-ounce (45-gram) package of marijuana affixed to the bird's leg. Drug dealers had attempted to smuggle drugs to the inmates at the prison using a carrier pigeon, but the package was ultimately too heavy and brought the bird down. Still—nice try, amigos.
Largest seizure of drug moneyIn late 1998, the US government conducted a series of sweeps and seizures of narcotics assets, capturing almost $280 million in one month. The largest single seizure was $180 million, plucked from a Swiss bank account belonging to Colombian gangster Julio Nasser David, who'd accumulated the money in a series of huge drug shipments to the US in the 1970s and 1980s. The captured funds were sent to local and federal drug agencies to assist in future investigations.
Largest cannabis-producing countryIn 2010, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published the Afghanistan Cannabis Survey. The survey concluded that Afghanistan was the world's foremost supplier of marijuana, cultivating 10,000-24,000 hectares each year in 17 of its 34 provinces, producing between 1,500 and 3,500 tons. While other countries devote more land to cannabis production, Afghanistan's yield is higher, cementing its place in the record books.
Largest drug haul by weightSpeaking of Afghanistan, authorities in that country discovered six dirt trenches containing just over 261 tons of marijuana in June 2008. To give you some idea of how much marijuana that is, it would take about 30 double-decker buses, packed to the brim, to haul it all around. The street value of the illicit cannabis was estimated at nearly $443 million.
Youngest identified group of drug addictsThe US State Department has classified a group of Afghan infants as the youngest drug addicts on record. Young teenage mothers in Afghanistan frequently get hooked on their husbands' opium and heroin—byproducts of Afghanistan's booming poppy cultivation. The children then become hooked when the mothers blow opiate-laced smoke in their faces to shush them. Opiates are also used in Afghanistan to treat pain-related maladies, leaving patients vulnerable to addiction. An Afghan child can be an opium addict by age two. Worse yet, there are no treatment programs or methods in place to help them.
First captured narco-submarineFor nearly two decades, drug smugglers in Central and South America have been using "narco-submarines"—crudely made semi-submersible boats—to transport massive shipments of drugs to the United States and evade authorities. In the beginning, these ships were primitive tubs, little more than wooden frames coated with fiberglass and equipped with low-power motors, basic navigational equipment, and skeleton crews. Later, the drug cartels got richer and more inventive, and the subs became more sophisticated—faster, more powerful, better-equipped, and capable of carrying staggeringly large loads. Often, these boats would be scuttled by their crews when capture seemed imminent, or they would sink to the bottom as they were being towed to port. The very first one of these super-subs to be captured intact was found in July 2010 in a Colombian swamp near the village of San Lorenzo. Its 100-foot fiberglass hull could have hauled seven to ten metric tons of pure cocaine, worth $100 million on the street. It had a diesel-electric motor combination (similar to military submarines of the Second World War), a conning tower with a periscope, an air-conditioning system, and a fish-finder camera to enable the crew to see outside. Most shocking of all, the sub was capable of fully submerging, something no narco-sub before it had ever been able to do. Authorities guessed that this super-sub could have cruised at five knots at a depth of 50 feet, completely evading Coast Guard patrol boats.
Largest number of people killed in the war against drugsIn 2006, Mexican president Felipe Calderón launched a military counter-drug operation in 2006 against the drug cartels which held the entire country at their mercy. As of 2011, according to estimates by Mexico's attorney general Arturo Chavez, no fewer than 30,000 people—soldiers, police, cartel members, vigilantes, and droves of innocent civilians—have lost their lives in Mexico's drug war. In 2010 alone there were more than 15,000 deaths, the worst of any year.
Largest march against illegal drugsThe Grand Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) March, organized by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation in March 2009, included almost 333,000 people, mostly public elementary school students from metropolitan Manila. Internet registration and barcode scanners were used to count official participants, but organizers insist that large numbers of unofficial participants brought the total up to 600,000.
Largest known drug money laundering operation"Don Lucho"—born Luis Augustin Caicedo Velandia—is allegedly the boss of Colombia's biggest drug-smuggling ring. And, like most drug kingpins, Mr. Lucho needed a way to clean up the drug money he received for his trade, so it would be untraceable by the authorities. Police estimate that, from 2005 to 2009, Velandia ran as much as $1.5 billion through his money-laundering network. Don Lucho's luck ran out in 2010, when the $5 billion in profits he made proved too much for even his massive money-laundering system to handle.