The Urban Legend About Drugs Smuggled in a Dead Baby

Border crossing with cars and security officials.

Konstantin/Flickr/CC BY 3.0

This urban legend is also known as "The Stuffed Baby" story. It has appeared in books and online websites many times. Generally, the text of the story reads something like the following:

A woman and her 4-year-old son are visiting a border town on the Mexican side of the Texas/Mexico border. As they are walking towards the border crossing to return to the U.S., a man runs up to her and takes her child. She immediately runs to the authorities and a search ensues.
The lady and the authorities begin walking among the cars, looking for her son. The woman spots her child in a truck a couple of rows over. Her son is laying his head on the shoulder of a man and appears to be sleeping.
As the authorities close in on the vehicle, the driver jumps out of line and makes a run for it. As they are driving off, the passenger opens his door and dumps the child out into the street. As the woman and the authorities reach the child they find, to their horror, that the child has not only been murdered but has been cut open and illegal drugs have been put inside his body.
It appears that the persons in the vehicle were drug smugglers and had decided to kidnap a child, kill them and place the drugs in the body. They would then hold the child as they approached the border and the border agents would think that the child was quietly sleeping on the shoulder of the passenger.

Another Version

Another version of the story circulated the internet in the late '90s. The text of the email/forum post is similar to this story:

My sister's co-worker has a sister in Texas, who with her husband was planning a weekend trip across the Mexican border for a shopping spree.
At the last minute, their baby sitter canceled, so they had to bring along their two-year-old son with them. They had been across the border for about an hour when the baby got free and ran around the corner. The mother went chasing, but the boy had disappeared. The mother found a police officer who told her to go to the gate and wait.
Not really understanding the instructions, she did as she was instructed. About 45 minutes later, a man approached the border carrying the boy. The mother ran to him, grateful that he had been found. When the man realized it was the boy's mother, he dropped the boy and ran himself. The police were waiting for him and got him.
The boy was dead. In the 45 minutes he was missing, he was cut open, ALL of his insides removed, and his body cavity was stuffed with COCAINE.
The man was going to carry him across the border as if he were asleep.
A two-year-old boy, dead, discarded as if he were a piece of trash for somebody's cocaine.
If this story can get out and change one person's mind about what drugs mean to them, we are helping. Please send this e-mail to as many people as you can. If you have a home PC send it out there, too.
Let's hope and pray it changes a lot of minds. The saddest thing about the whole situation is that those persons who suffer are innocent and people we love.
God bless you in this united effort to spread the word. You just might save a life!

It's always a treat to see a well-worn urban legend retooled for circulation on the Internet. Such is the case with a familiar horror story dating from the early 1970s claiming that drug smugglers have been known to use the corpses of abducted, murdered children to transport their illegal goods across national borders. The story continues to circulate to this day.

In all the decades this grisly legend has been in circulation, no real instances matching the descriptions above have been confirmed or documented.

The legend (or the bare bones of it, anyway) got its first mainstream media airing in 1985 when the "Washington Post" recounted it as factual in a feature about crime problems in Miami. As folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand noted in his mid-'80s collection of urban legends "The Mexican Pet," the "Post" quickly found out that the story was untrue and retracted it a week later.

The published correction read, in part:

In the opening paragraph of an article last Monday on crime in Miami, the "Washington Post" recounted a story that cannot be substantiated. The story, told to a "Post" reporter several years ago by a Miami undercover agent, involves the smuggling of cocaine into the United States in the body of a dead baby.
Clifton Stallings, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service in Miami, said "the story has been in circulation for some time. No one at Customs in Miami can verify it."

One customs official told the "Post" he had heard the story as long ago as 1973. As it was told in those days, he said, a suspiciously immobile child was spotted by an attendant on a flight from Colombia to Miami. Customs agents investigated and found that the baby, apparently deceased for some time, had been "cut open, stuffed with cocaine, and sewn shut." It was considered a prime example of just how ruthless of international drug traffickers can be.

As told on the internet, it has become a much more compelling story. Set just across the U.S.-Mexico border and recounted in true "friend of a friend" fashion ("my sister's co-worker has a sister in Texas," a frequently shared variant begins), the cautionary tale now carries a dual moral message: Drugs are evil, and never let your children out of your sight. Represented as a parent's "true" nightmare, the online version concluded with a prayer that the story would convince people to stop using drugs. The more likely result is that has reinforced many people's already well-entrenched fears.


Brunvand, Jan Harold. "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legends." Kindle Edition, W.W. Norton & Company, March 17, 2014.

Brunvan, Jan Harold. "The Mexican Pet: More 'New' Urban Legends and Some Old Favorites." Kindle Edition, Reprint edition, W. W. Norton & Company, December 20, 2012.

Buchanan, Edna. "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face." Paperback, Reprint edition, Gallery Books, July 14, 2009.

"Child's body used for smuggling drugs into the U.S.-Fiction!" Truth or Fiction, March 17, 2015.

Sadistic_Killer. "The Stuffed Baby." Wattpad.