Cat Caught Smuggling Drugs into Panama Prison

Guards at Nueva Esperanza Prison in Panama had the singularly bizarre experience of taking a non-human felon into custody when they captured a feline drug mule last week.

The cat has been turned over to an animal shelter, Eduardo Rodriguez, said a local prosecutor according to AFP. Here's hoping that it repents of its crimes and finds a forever home.

Located north of Panama City in the Caribbean province of Colon, Nueva Esperanza Prison houses more than 1,700 inmates. This is far from the first time those among their ranks have attempted to smuggle in drugs with the help of animals.

In addition to cats, guards have previously intercepted homing pigeons that were attempting to deliver narcotics. Even drones in the area have been caught with illegal substances, according to AFP.

On April 16, prison staff noticed an orange-and-white cat attempting to enter the building. When they detained the cat, they saw that it "had a cloth tied around its neck," Andres Gutierrez, head of the Panama Penitentiary System, said. The cloth turned out to contain packages of what Gutierrez described as a white powder, leaves and "vegetable matter," which another official identified as cocaine, crack, and marijuana. A photo shared by the Panama Prosecutor's Office appears to depict a plastic bag of pills as well.

Comprometidos con el bienestar de nuestra fauna doméstica, uniformados del Complejo Penitenciario Nueva Esperanza de la provincia de Colón, entregaron un gato a la Fundación Adopta por Amor y Defensores de Animales. #UnPanamáMejor pic.twitter.com/fdNZAEhvWx

— Policía Nacional (@ProtegeryServir) April 16, 2021

Wild as it is, the story has some news outlets, including The Star and The Times of India, dubbing the cat a "Narcocat," though the cat hasn't weighed in on its new nickname. Once its ruse was discovered, it was turned over to the Adopt for Love and Animal Defenders Foundation, where it will be put up for adoption.

A tweet posted by the National Police of Panama depicts the cat sitting nonchalantly in a carrier as its couriers stand over it.

"Committed to the welfare of our domestic animals, the Nueva Esperanza Penitentiary Complex in the province of Colón delivered a cat to the Adopt for Love and Animal Defenders Foundation.#UnPanamáMejor," the translated caption reads.

The incident spurred the Colon drug crimes prosecutor's office to launch an investigation into the use of animals to smuggle drugs into Nueva Esperanza Prison, according to their Twitter. It seems that they are saddled with the substances by accomplices on the outside and then lured into the prison with food by inmates.

Per World Prison Brief, Panama has 18,174 prisoners but only 23 prisons. Since the official capacity of the prison system is only 14, 591, it would seem that the majority of the nation's correctional facilities are overcrowded.

orange and white kitten
Tony Evans/Timelapse Library Ltd./Getty Images