Cops Are So Bored They’re Turning Drug Busts Into Bizarre Art Installations

"It often appeared that setting up the photo-ops must take much longer than the actual drug bust itself".

Not content with circulating photos to the media of confiscated drugs being incinerated or piled into a huge mound, cops are now creating art installations from the narcotics themselves. 

Security expert Christoph Harig, who says he is now “a curator of drug bust photo op art”, started spotting the trend while researching the drug war in Brazil. 

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He noticed police were creating faces, logos, shapes and words with the cocaine capsules, pills and packages they had seized from traffickers in order to show-off their drug war achievements.

Photo: Ronda Ostensiva Municipal

“I realised that many police departments really put in a lot of effort in their arrangements. Indeed, it often appeared that setting up the photo-ops must take much longer than the actual drug bust itself,” said Harig, from the Institute of International Relations at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.

Photo-ops sent to the media over the last three years show intricate arrangements of ecstasy pills, cocaine capsules and bricks of coke and heroin, often spelling out the name of the anti-drug units that seized them. One video even shows a domino run of drug packages.

Photo: Polícia Civil do Paraná

Cops have even made stupid videos…

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Harig said Brazilian police are the most prolific and creative purveyors of “drug bust photo-op art”, most notably the Military Police of Minas Gerais, a state in south east Brazil, although he also has examples from anti-drug police in other countries, including Turkey and Italy. 

Photo: Turkish Department of Combating Narcotic Crimes

Photo: Carabinieri nel Comune di Dongo

Anti-drug cops in Brazil, who have a brutal reputation, particularly in Rio’s favelas, can often be seen using “Punisher” badges or T-shirts while posing with suspects or drugs, Harig said, “which tells you a lot about how they perceive themselves as righteous crime-fighters who feel held back by the rule of law”. 

“These pictures are funny and sad at the same time,” said Harig. “Apart from police forces’ artistic prowess, they show the tragedy and pointlessness of the war on drugs. Presenting even the tiniest busts as some sort of success against drug traffickers shows you how detached this way of policing has become from trying to solve actual problems.” 

It’s not just the cops getting creative of course. This week police in Libya announced they had found 323 bars of “Lemon Haze” hashish wrapped with photos of Russian president Vladimir Putin washed up on the beach near the northern city of Marj.

Photo: AFP / Police handout

A few days beforehand, locals near the seaside towns of Talmitha and Boutraba, in the east of Libya, found a large number of hash bars on the shore wrapped in pictures of Pablo Escobar.


brazil, italy, Libya, narcotics, drug busts, worldnews

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