Almost 200 smugglers caught at Prague Airport

A high-tech detection system has been in use for a year

Some 199 drug smugglers have been captured during the first year of operation of a new detection system at Václav Havel Airport Prague. Statistics cover February 2018 to the end of January 2019.

The Interior Ministry says customs officers will start using similar detectors by the end of 2020 at the Czech Republic’s other international airports in Brno, Ostrava, Pardubice and Karlovy Vary.

Customs officials began using the new system last February. It can detect common drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, as well as more exotic drugs like that, a stimulant plant from Africa.

“The devices are designed especially to detect the import of drugs smuggled in passengers’ body cavities,” Prague Ruzyně Customs Office spokeswoman Šárka Miškovská said, according to news station ČT24.

The devices are more thorough than drug-detecting dogs. “The dog is taught about 10 kinds of drugs. We can analyze more types of substances,” Miškovská said.

Not every passenger is checked. Customs officials focus on people who exhibit suspicious behavior or seem to be nervous.

The detectors were introduced at Václav Havel Airport along with other security measures such as cameras that can read license plates, facial recognition cameras and software, and devices to detect nuclear radiation.

The largest find by the new drug-detecting devices so far was in October, when a sample swipe from a Brazilian woman’s hand showed traces of cocaine. A further examination showed she had half a kilogram hidden in a body cavity. The drugs had avoided detection in Brazil and Portugal.

In July 2017 it was reported that new security measures for all of the international airports in the Czech Republic would cost some Kč 672 million.

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