Moscow - Russian agents detained a Colombian priest on arrival at a Moscow airport and found he had swallowed over a dozen condoms stuffed with cocaine, the federal anti-narcotics service said on Wednesday.
Anti-narcotics officers detained the man at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport because his “sickly appearance and nervous behaviour” raised suspicions, the service said.
They took him to a Moscow hospital where they found 13 packages of cocaine in his stomach. They also found five more in his luggage, with a total of 780 grams of cocaine.
Russian television showed footage of the operation with the young bespectacled priest in black clothes and a dog collar with a cross.
It said that the priest, who had flown via Paris, had swallowed condoms full of cocaine.
Television showed ID cards naming him as Fabio Ricardo Rodriguez, a priest within the Holy Catholic Church-Western Rite.
“The organisers of the drug business, as you can see, stoop to the dirtiest methods, even involving representatives of the most virtuous professions,” the drug service said.
The priest is now in a pre-trial detention centre in the Moscow satellite of Khimki and was visited by the Colombian consul, Russian television reported.
It showed him holding a rosary in his cell.
“Since I am a priest, this situation is very complex. It goes against my morals and my convictions, but I was forced by a mafia gang to commit this action, I had no choice,” he said in televised comments dubbed into Russian.
Asked what he would do in jail, he replied: “Pray for forgiveness of my sins and reflect on my life.”
He could serve 10 to 15 years for smuggling drugs, Russian television said. - AFP