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Published: Sunday, 3/23/2014

Customs intercepts cocaine sent to Vatican

A view of the Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City. A view of the Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City.

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

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

Officers at Leipzig airport found 12 ounces of the drug packed into 14 condoms in a shipment of cushions coming from South America, the paper reported. It cited 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 capture a recipient.

No one claimed the package, indicating that he or she may have been tipped off. The drugs would have a street value of several tens of thousands of dollars.

A spokesman for the German Finance Ministry, which oversees the customs office, confirmed the report.

Prosecutors in Leipzig planned to issue a statement today providing further details.

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

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