<H3>By DANE SCHILLER
July 27, 2010, 11:30AM
</H3>It took five hours and four minutes, but a suspected drug trafficker finally surrendered the spoils: 85 condoms of cocaine he allegedly swallowed and intended to smuggle from Houston to France.
Housrou Kedji is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday after being caught as he tried to board an Air France flight leaving Bush Intercontinental Airport. He is charged with two counts of drug-trafficking.
The 42-year-old citizen of the African nation of Togo gave up 2.2 pounds of his illicit cargo while sitting on a special no-flow toilet under the eyes of federal agents and doctors at a local hospital.
Kedji's undoing apparently began when tried to board the Flight 639 four weeks ago.
He was so nervous he drew the attention of Customs and Border Protection inspectors questioning travelers, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
The night of his arrest, Kedji's hands were shaking, his heart was racing, and he gave conflicting stories of what he'd been up to while visiting Houston, the affidavit says.
He supposedly confessed that he had traveled to Houston from Togo, and was headed to Switzerland. His pay for the job was to be 5,000 Euros, or nearly $6,500.
The cocaine was parceled into packets of a few grams apiece and wrapped in the condoms. Suspicions were confirmed by a hospital X-ray machine.
One risk is death
Known as "swallowers," such traffickers face risks on two fronts.
Getting caught by federal inspectors could mean prison. Having a condom break could unleash a brutal overdose death.
In other instances, swallowers have been known to use the sliced off tips of latex gloves.
It is unclear how Kedji will plead to the two trafficking-related charges when he is brought before a magistrate.
Kedji requested a French interpreter. His lawyer, Melissa Martin, declined to comment.
Problem for Houston
Mike Vigil, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was the director of international operations, said the arrest underscores how Houston is a trampoline for sneaking narcotics not only into the United States from South America and Mexico, but on to Europe and elsewhere.
The odds of catching Kedji were about zero, if he had just stayed calm and blended into passengers leaving the country, Vigil said.
"A lot of these guys may be a first-time courier," he said. "They are perspiring and do stupid things to bring attention to themselves.
"You get these guys thinking, 'I am going to get caught, going to go to the jail,'" he said. "They are at the point where they are shaking."