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Gazette Premium Content German customs seizes cocaine-filled condoms addressed to Vatican

Associated Press - Updated: March 23, 2014 at 12:07 pm

BERLIN — The drug haul was unremarkable, but the destination raised eyebrows.

German customs officials intercepted a shipment of cocaine destined for the Vatican in January, weekly Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.

Officers at Leipzig airport found 340 grams (12 ounces) of the drug packed into 14 condoms inside a shipment of cushions coming from South America, the paper, reported citing a German customs report. It said the package was simply addressed to the Vatican postal office, meaning any of the Catholic mini-state's 800 residents could have picked it up.

The paper reported that a subsequent sting operation arranged with Vatican police failed to nab the intended recipient. No one claimed the package, indicating that he or she was tipped off about the plan. The drugs would have a street value of several tens of thousands of euros.

A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry, which oversees the customs office, confirmed the report. Prosecutors in Leipzig planned to issue a statement Monday providing further details, Martin Chaudhuri told The Associated Press.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed that the Vatican police had cooperated with German police in an attempt to identify the traffickers. He said the investigation remained open.

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