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Hiding The Dough: Woman Caught Smuggling €70,000 In Pasta

Hiding The Dough: Woman Caught Smuggling €70,000 In Pasta
Alessio Perrone

Italy, as everyone knows, is the place for pasta. And so it goes without saying that visitors to the country often head home with a package or two in their duffels or suitcases.

The woman in this story was no exception, in that regard. And yet, there was something about her that must have puzzled authorities when she showed up recently at customs controls in Milan Malpensa airport.

The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports that the woman — who has not been identified by name but it said to have Nigerian origins and been living near Turin, in the country's northwest — was boarding a connecting flight to Istanbul, Turkey, with final destination Lagos.

At customs control, when asked if she was carrying cash, bonds, or other valuables out of the country, she declared she had less than 10,000 euros in cash — the maximum amount that can be taken out of the country without notifying authorities according to Italian law.

Something about woman didn't sit right, though, and so after a routine check on the spot, the officers decided to search the woman's checked luggage. That's when they found several paper boxes of penne, rigatoni and pipe rigate. Hmmm....

Intrigued, the officers then decided to open the boxes, and that's when they discovered — hidden under the different types of pasta — various wads of 20-, 50- and 100-euro notes. Oh, mamma mia!

Italian authorities report that in total the woman had some 70,240 euros with her, at least 60,000 of which were in the pasta packets. According to the news report, they seized half of the undeclared cash but did not say whether the woman was allowed to travel on to Istanbul and Lagos.

Also unclear is whether she was able to keep her valuable pasta.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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