Cocaine Condoms at the Vatican
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Cocaine Condoms at the Vatican


Cocaine Condoms at the VaticanSay, can you remember what you did in January? Me neither. Well, if we worked as German Customs Agents, we could have been in the middle of a big cocaine sting involving the toniest drug destination since Carmen Miranda sashayed onto the Fox lot.

Party at the Vatican

That’s because last January German customs officials intercepted a package containing 14 condoms filled with a total of 12 ounces of liquid cocaine valued at around $55,000. The intended destination for the stash? Vatican City, baby. The package had been shipped from South America and the address used for the recipient was intriguingly vague: No name—simply “The Vatican Post Office.” Conjecture ran wild amongst the authorities, as the Italian mini-state is only accessible to around 800 people. So who sent the flake? And who was planning to pick it up?

Just like a Hollywood B movie, the German officials worked with Vatican Police to arrange a sting. I regret to say, however, that they didn’t go Tarantino and place Sofia Vergera in the Vatican wearing a tight nunsie-onesie with an AA-12 tucked under her vengeful arm; instead they simply sent the package along to the Vatican P.O., presumably along with a few thousand invisible eyes to watch developments.

That’s right, there have been cocaine condoms sitting in the Vatican all winter long.

And no one picked them up.

Turns out that sending drugs to the Vatican is probably not such an odd event, especially when you realize that drugs weren’t even banned in the place until 2008 after a Vatican City employee was nabbed with 87 grams of cocaine. The guy almost eluded going to trial until a treaty allowed the Vatican to imprison drug offenders for up to six months. The employee—who was already in an Italian prison for other offenses, no doubt eating better than I do—had the six months added to his sentence since the Vatican’s own prison is rarely used.

Lost in the Mail

No one knows who was waiting for the cocaine condoms or how they got tipped off about the sting. Did Germany’s own Bishop of Bling pick up his mail at the Vatican? I’d love for it to be him but anyone who’s manic enough to spend over $300,000 on an ornamental fish tank for his $40 million home is probably way beyond these sort of small-time hijinks.

In the end it’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle probably wearing a cassock. But it’s nevertheless pretty impressive that the condoms held their heavy load.

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About Author

Dana Burnell has written for The London Times Sunday Magazine, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Inside New York and Time Out New York. A former Editorial Assistant at Harvard Review, she’s the received Mellon Foundation Grant and two Fiction Fellowship Grants from Columbia University. She’s written two novels, Mistaken Nonentity and The Tame Man.