Drugs Smuggled in Baby's CorpseDateline: 09/21/98 UPDATE - 05/11/00 - Urban Legend Come to Life?
By David Emery
It's always fascinating to see old urban legends dressed up in new clothes for the Internet.
Such is the case with a not-so-fresh horror story about drug smugglers and the corpses of abducted children dating back to the early 1970s. It first erupted in email form about two years ago and in recent weeks has enjoyed an upsurge in circulation. The core text of the email version hasn't changed since 1996:
My sister's co-worker has a sister in Texas, who with her husband was planning a weekend trip across the Mexican border for a shopping spree.
At the last minute their baby sitter canceled, so they had to bring along their two year old son with them. They had been across the border for about an hour when the baby got free and ran around the corner. The mother went chasing, but the boy had disappeared. The mother found a police officer who told her to go to the gate and wait.
Not really understanding the instructions, she did as she was instructed. About 45 minutes later, a man approached the border carrying the boy. The mother ran to him, grateful that he had been found. When the man realized it was the boy's mother, he dropped the boy and ran himself. The police were waiting for him and got him.
The boy, dead, in the 45 minutes he was missing, was cut open, ALL of his insides removed and his body cavity stuffed with COCAINE.
The man was going to carry him across the border as if he were asleep.
A two year old boy, dead, discarded as if he were a piece of trash for somebody's cocaine.
If this story can get out and change one person's mind about what drugs mean to them, We are helping. Please send this E-mail to as many people as you can, if you have a home PC send it out there too.
Lets hope and pray it changes a lot of minds. The saddest thing about the whole situation is that those persons who suffer are innocent and people we love........
God Bless you in this united effort to spread the word. You just might save a life!
Er... probably not. Customs and law enforcement officials say that none of what you have just read is true. In the 25 years this legend has been in circulation, no evidence has been found that any such thing ever really happened.
'A story that cannot be substantiated'
The legend the bare bones of it, anyway got its first public airing in 1985 when the Washington Post cited it (as fact) to liven up a feature about crime problems in Miami. As Jan Harold Brunvand noted in his mid-'80s collection of urban legends, The Mexican Pet (W.W. Norton, 1986), the Post soon learned that the story was untrue and retracted it the following week. The published correction read, in part:
In the opening paragraph of an article last Monday on crime in Miami, the Washington Post recounted a story that cannot be substantiated. The story, told to a Post reporter several years ago by a Miami undercover agent, involves the smuggling of cocaine into the United States in the body of a dead baby.
Clifton Stallings, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service in Miami, said "the story has been in circulation for some time. No one at Customs in Miami can verify it."
Washington Post, March 30, 1985
One customs official told the Post he had heard the story as far back as 1973. As it was told in those days, a suspiciously immobile child was spotted by an attendant on a flight from Colombia to Miami. Customs agents investigated and found that the baby, apparently dead for some time, had been "cut open, stuffed with cocaine and sewn shut." It was regarded as an example of the extreme ruthlessness of international drug traffickers.
The legend cropped up on the Internet towards the end of 1996. It had become a much more compelling story in the retelling.
Set just across the U.S.-Mexico border and recounted in true "friend of a friend" style ("My sister's co-worker has a sister in Texas..."), the legend now had a double moral message: drugs are evil, and never let your children out of your sight. Told as a parent's "true" nightmare, the Internet version concluded with a prayer that it would change people's minds about drug use. As usual, however, the only likely effect of the email horror story has been to reinforce a lot of people's well-entrenched fears.
A reader recently described hearing the legend through a friend who'd obviously read it on the Internet and believed it:
Have you heard the story about baby corpses used for drug runners? Someone in my office told me that they had heard a story about how "often" when Americans travel in Mexico, drug gangs will steal the tourists' babies, kill them, gut them, and use them to transport drugs. She was warning me because I had a 1 year old at the time (now she's 2). I thought this was sick, and imagined that if it was such a rampant problem I would have heard about it somewhere. Have you heard this crazy story?
Indeed I have. It reminds me of another story, the one about travelers being drugged by strangers and waking up to find their kidneys gone. It seems it's not safe to leave one's home anymore!
Thank God we have the Internet to keep us entertained.
05/11/00 - Urban Legend Come to Life?
The world press bites on the old story again
Edna Buchanan Debunks Cocaine Baby
As quoted in the AFU & Urban Legends Archive, Miami's top crime reporter labels the story "a fiction."