Lessons From Locked Up Abroad: When to Abort Your Drug Smuggling Trip

Mark Greening was caught smuggling hash by Japanese customs when he broke his friend/drug supplier’s golden rule of drug trafficking: don’t body pack drugs. It’s asking for an instant sentence, because there’s practically no way to disprove possession when drugs are found on you or in your belongings.

Unlike Mark’s previous two trips to Kathmandu, his third visit was marred by bad omens. Everything in his life was telling him to abort, but he refused to acknowledge the signs because he needed the cash. Mark made a costly decision, but his experience can be used as a lesson for both law-abiders and would-be drug traffickers alike.

Here are some signs from Mark’s trip that should inspire would-be drug smugglers to consider aborting their trip:

  • Superstition or not, receiving a blessing from a fortune teller is a good thing. If it’s something you’re used to receiving and you fail to get one, then don’t bother going on your drug smuggling trip.
  • Although flexibility is helpful during most challenges, it’s important not to stray too far from the original plan. If you’re too sick to swallow drugs, don’t body pack them instead.
  • Don’t ignore good advice. Mark’s drug dealer friend told him never to body pack drugs. Perhaps if he followed that advice, he could have avoided arrest.
  • It may be tempting to mix business and pleasure, but drug smuggling is not your normal business trip. Refrain from anything that might distract you from the task at hand, like taking a tour of the Himalayas. But if you can’t resist, at least leave your drugs behind.
  • Just because you avoided one arrest does not make you invincible from all arrests. Don’t push your luck.
  • Remember: the cheaper the drugs, the easier it should be walk away from them. Don’t let the potential profits cloud your judgment.
  • Rituals set patterns in our lives. Mark received sacred ash and the “Sai Baba” blessing on his first two trips, but the hotel owner was absent on the third, which was a break in the normal pattern. When a ritual breaks, it lets you know something’s different. This can be useful in deciding to follow through with the plan.
  • Most drug sentences are given by the amount in possession, so don’t help customs find all your drugs if they haven’t discovered them yet (like Mark did). But if they offer a reduced sentence, then make sure you get that offer in writing before you help them.

For Mark’s full story, tune in to Locked Up Abroad: The Juggler Smuggler tonight at 10P et/pt.


  1. Marco
    July 4, 2012, 2:22 am

    Is National Geographic actually giving guidelines on when and when not too smuggle drugs? WTF?!!!

  2. Tommy
    New York
    July 10, 2012, 10:48 am

    This show is too cool

  3. Jason
    January 25, 2015, 6:19 pm

    Yes, love the show but I have to agree with Marco. Surely advice the first tip should be don’t smuggle drugs at all! Haha.

  4. rory calhoun
    June 30, 2015, 3:00 am

    nice to know NatGeo is outling the advice you can gain from this episode.

    NOT TO SELF: body-packing is a NO-NO!!!

    landing a Japanese wife along the way? not so bad!!!

  5. Sarah
    July 14, 2015, 6:04 pm

    I was asked to do this and refused. Why? Well, I asked if it was so easy, why don’t you do it? The person had nothing to say.

    Greening reminds me of some of the doofuses I ran into when I worked abroad years ago. Their hubris, greed and most of all stupidity drives them to do this. At least he KNEW what he was doing. Some people don’t even consider why they would be “selected” to smuggle drugs. They think it’s because they’re smart. It’s usually for the opposite reason – they’re stupid.

  6. rory calhoun
    Nagoya, Japan
    August 29, 2015, 3:22 am

    there’s a fine line between sarcasm and being honest. NATGEO seems to have crossed that line with this advice.

    Somewhere, some other American is rotting in a foreign prison for taking this, but still got caught.

    late at night, the prison is HAUNTED by the constant screams of “DAMN YOU, NATGEO!!!!”