Picture: stevepb/Pixabay

A passenger of Japanese origin died midflight from Colombia to Japan after ingesting hundreds of bags of cocaine, authorities said.

The man, identified only as Udo N., 42, began suffering seizures Friday on the flight, prompting an emergency landing in Hermosillo, a city in Sonora, Mexico, authorities said.

Upon landing, he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy revealed that the man died from a cerebral edema or swelling in the brain, caused by a drug overdose, authorities said. 

Forensics experts found 246 plastic bags filled with cocaine lodged in his stomach and intestines, according to a statement released this week by the Sonora attorney general's office.

Authorities said that there were no other signs of physical trauma that could have contributed to the passenger's death.

Cocaine comes from coca leaves grown in South America, mainly in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). About 90% of cocaine shipped to the United States is produced in labs in Colombia, according to the DEA.

In 2017, two Delta Air Lines passengers traveling from the Dominican Republic to New York were arrested when authorities found a combined 23 pounds of cocaine hidden under their clothes.

Last year, a Fly Jamaica Airways crew member was accused of attempting to smuggle nearly nine pounds of cocaine through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York when he was found to have four packages filled with white powder strapped to his legs and underneath his pants.

It is not uncommon for drug smugglers to swallow small bags of narcotics to attempt to evade security screenings, officials say.

The recent case in Mexico is still under investigation.

Washington Post