BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Airport authorities in Colombia arrested a woman boarding a flight to New York who had a record 180 heroin capsules worth US$120,000 concealed in her stomach, police said Tuesday.
''We have previously only seen cases of people carrying up to 100 capsules,'' said Maj. Juan Pablo Guerrero, head of the anti-narcotics police in the southwestern city of Cali, where the woman, whose name was not released, tried to board the flight on Friday.
A 48-year-old man traveling with the woman also surpassed the previous record, with 120 capsules of heroin in his stomach.
Police noticed that the couple looked nervous as they prepared to get on the plane, so they took them aside and x-rayed their bodies, revealing the thumb-sized, latex pellets.
Guerrero said the pellets in the woman weighed a total of about 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds). He said the pair were taken to a hospital, where it took the woman three days for her to pass all the capsules out of her body.
Narcotics traffickers have increasingly turned to using human ''mules,'' or drug couriers, to deliver their products to consumer nations such as the United States and European countries in recent years.
The plight of drug mules was spotlighted in the recent movie ''Maria Full of Grace,'' in which a Colombian woman turns to smuggling drugs in her stomach to earn money and build a better life. The film's star, Catalina Sandino Moreno, received an academy award nomination for best actress.
Half of the heroin consumed in the United States comes from Colombia.