This particular one was about JFK US Customs folks who handle drug mules that come off of international flights.
The MO is pretty simple: Stand around looking for nervous people. When you find one start questioning them until their story becomes the slightest bit inconsistent. When it does, search heavily until you find drugs spending a lot of time trying to get the mule not to "lie." Finally they get shipped off to jail (because each mule usually carries enough illegal drugs to warrant a serious offense).
All this is pretty unremarkable.
That is, until you think about the larger picture.
For each mule there are several folks that "work" on them. A "boss," various underlings, good cop, bad cop, somebody to check the passports and paper work, computers to check finger prints, walking them from room to room, calling on the phone to verify information, and on and on.
So one "mule" takes up an hour or two of the time of, say, four people, in searching, interviewing, processing, etc.
About 23 million people go through JFK each year according to Wikipedia - that's 65,000 a day so figure about 22,000 are inbound. JFK is largely an international airport so a significant percentage of these in-bound passengers would be from foreign countries.
What's interesting is the amount of man power and resources spent on the "mules."
None are sent back home to where they came from - virtually all become part of the US on arrival, albeit in jail, but part of the US non-the-less.
All the drugs collected are collected for evidence.
If you collect the person for jail you need evidence to convict them.
Interestingly, in the process of questioning these "mules" phone calls are made to local US folks to ask questions: "is so-and-so your brother-in-law?" "did you know so-and-so was returning to the US today." And so on...
What is striking is how inefficient this all is - and no doubt expensive.
Obviously on the inbound side these mules have little trouble getting onto the planes.
Wouldn't it be far simpler to simply confiscate the drugs and put them back onto a plane for where ever they came from?
Instead we let them "touch down" on US soil so all the rules fall into their favor.
Most seem pretty dumb. They provide completely nonsensical stories about visiting random relatives for silly reasons. Most use false id's so no one really knows who they are.
It almost seems like a completely well thought out system.
Push X number of dumb mules through each day - the dumb ones will get weeded out and put into US jails - burdening an already overworked US customs system.
The dumb ones seem also to serve as a distraction. If it takes five customs guys to deal with one dumb one then maybe other, smarter ones, are simply passing on through unnoticed.
Maybe we should be rethinking the big picture on all this...