Drugs, Brussels airport – photo of large bags of dog kibble containing drugs.
All photos courtesy of the Belgian customs authorities.

MDMA Dog Kibble and Soup: How Drug Dealers Smuggle Goods Through the Post

We asked customs authorities to show us some of the weirdest stashes they've com – and they kindly obliged.
Matéo Vigné
Brussels, BE

This article originally appeared on VICE Belgium.

When I was growing up, my parents were never the type to shield me from the grim side of life. They made a point of exposing me to the good and the bad: I can recall countless stories from their glorious stoner days, when they’d travel up to the Netherlands and easily buy the good stuff in coffee shops – a little Amnesia here, a little kush there, no more than a couple of innocent grams in total.


There was only one problem: As youngsters with eyes bigger than their lungs, they nearly always wound up with leftovers. This presented a dilemma when it came time to pack their bags and head home – to smuggle or not to smuggle? The predicament was complicated by the fact that my dad, being Black and all, had approximately a 110 percent chance to get stopped for a “random screening” at the border. 

The solution? Mail the leftovers back to their address in an inconspicuous envelope – a nice, consumable postcard of sorts. Sure, the package might get intercepted and confiscated, but all things considered, the risk was fairly low.

Turns out their brilliant idea is pretty much one of the most common ways drug dealers transport drugs across borders. In Belgium, these kinds of custom controls and seizures fall under the Ministry of Finance. Spokesperson Florence Angelici said they come across ingeniously disguised drug stashes in the mail all the time. “We intercept lots of synthetic products, like MDMA, ecstasy, and ketamine,” she says. “They’re mainly produced in the Netherlands, in places near the border where it’s easier to get them past the police. To avoid getting caught, traffickers send them out from Belgium [to other countries] instead of the Netherlands.”

According to Angelici, there’s been a marked increase in drug trafficking of this kind in recent years – and the disguises are becoming more and more elaborate. That said, it’s hard to quantify this sort of thing, since many of these packages do end up reaching their destination. “In terms of novelty,” Angelici says, “I’d say that over the last five years, we’ve been seeing a lot more tranquillising substances – ketamine, GHB, and benzodiazepine [an antidepressant], for example. We’ve seen an uptick in ecstasy, too. In 2021, we found over 100 kilograms of it in the mail, a 20 percent increase from 2020.” 


Angelici said this is mainly linked to the boom of online dark web markets. In her experience, the drug trade was largely unaffected by the pandemic. In fact, it’s a virtually unending game of cat and mouse for customs – the more online sales go well, the more shipments are made and the more likely it is for some drugs to slip through. And even if the state was to increase the number of personnel on the case and the total amount of goods confiscated, the dealers’ job would become riskier, pushing prices up and in turn incentivising more dealers to join the market. In short, the current system isn’t working.

Thanks to the cooperation of various customs agencies, we’ve got hold of multiple pictures of unorthodox postal packages people have stashed their drugs in.

But first, a disclaimer: The following images might be aesthetically upsetting to you. While we take full responsibility for the choice of background, we do not condone the 2003-era Word Art accompanying these pictures.

Amphetamines in lava lamps, bound for Australia

Drugs, Brussels airport – four pictures of the lava lamp boxes, the two lava lamps and small bags filled with drugs.

When you open a box to find six kilos of methamphetamines, 50 grams of 3-MMC (a designer drug similar to amphetamines) and 15 grams of ecstasy, it’s hard to imagine the sender’s end goal was personal use. I’m trying not to be too judgmental, but I associate lava lamps with white people with dreadlocks or basement-dwelling nerds stuck in the past.

As stashes go, not exactly the most stylish, or subtle.


MDMA in foot care products, bound for Ecuador

Drugs, Brussels airport – four pictures, mostly of plastic containers meant to be full of foot bath products but filled with brown MDMA crystals instead.

“It’s really tough to track down the sender or recipient of a given package,” Angelici says. “Usually, the sender’s address has been stolen from a victim of identity theft. Or else it’s a fake address, one that doesn’t even exist.” Despite coordinated international efforts to increase the confiscation of contraband, customs agents’ main goal is still to stop the transactions rather than zero in on the source.

In this case, this particular package – sent from Antwerp to the port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador — was doomed from the get-go. The contents had been declared as used clothes, yet the package contained bottles of foot care products visibly filled with suspicious brown crystals. Rookie mistake, if you ask me.

MDMA snacks, headed to the Dominican Republic

Drugs, Brussels airport – four pictures of a large package containing various dried foods, including porridge and knorr brand meal kits.

It takes a trained eye to figure this one out. What appeared to be a care package, maybe sent to someone who’d just moved abroad, was actually a golden opportunity to make some cash. Makes you look at Knorr stock pot in a whole new light. 

Ecstasy pills as dog biscuits, bound for Pakistan

Drugs, Brussels airport – four photos showing large bags of dog food. The last picture is a close-up showing pink ecstasy pills shaped irregularly just like dog food.

We’ve got to give it to them – this was a clever one. The package contained 30,000 (!!!) ecstasy pills going to Pakistan. The quantity is no coincidence: Since the South Asian country deals harsh punishments to people in possession of small and large quantities alike, traffickers go for large shipments of drugs rather than smaller and more frequent ones to avoid getting caught. Ironically, despite having some of the strictest drug laws in the world, Pakistan is experiencing a massive opioid addiction crisis – and weed is consumed in many parts of the country, too.


We already knew drug makers are pretty smart, but disguising their product to look exactly like dog kibble – well, that’s some next-level thinking right there. On that note, a bit of advice: In case you find yourself getting your dog food delivered internationally, maybe check for colour and consistency before giving it to your furry friend.

Meth in decorative artwork sent to Australia

Drugs, Brussels airport – Multiple turquoise egg-shaped objects with yellow drug baggies inside

I’d say this one probably takes the biscuit for most elaborate disguise on our list. Hiding a kilo of methamphetamine in a work of art takes real cleverness. We don’t know if the objects were tailor-made to hide the drugs in the first place, or if the traffickers perused some fancy decor store and picked out something they liked. Either way, it’s a great image. 10/10 best Kinder Surprise reinterpretation. 

Ketamine in instant soup, bound to the United States

Drugs, Brussels airport – a large box containing various dried food, including supplements, soup and honey-flavoured cereal.

A textbook example of how to camouflage your drug biz as a harmless snack. The choice of asparagus soup feels especially wholesome, evoking images of a student’s ill-fated attempt to recreate their grandma’s comfort food – with a little extra kick, obviously.