30 Extra Minutes of Packing Will Save You From 30 Months in a Middle Eastern Prison
NOTE: This info is not just for Civilian Contractors – anyone who travels internationally should read this
So gents - What is the difference between a spent piece of 9mm brass or an EOTECH and an M-60?
According to many customs agencies in the 3rd world [and even some 1st world countries] there is absolutely zero difference between a single 9mm brass and a Bazooka.
Yep, if you get caught with something as simple as a Fore Grip for an M-4 in your bag when traveling through parts of the 3rd world you will go to prison for smuggling a firearm into the country.
And more than likely due to a combination of your nationality [infidel], occupation [murdering mercenary], the misguided belief that all Westerners are rich [you can pay a fat bribe] and local laws that were written by some guy with a 3rd grade education - you will spend months or years and every penny you and your family has fighting the local Sharia courts.
And that’s if you are lucky.
If you get cut a “break” by the local authorities then you will only spend 2 months [and no doubt all of your money] in some 3rd world shit-hole jail.
If you are not so “lucky” then you will be in jail surrounded by people who hate you because of your nationality with no end in sight like one Security Contractor I know who is currently in a Middle Eastern prison for unknowingly having something in his bag that was considered a firearm.
And if you think your company will help you – well Buster, think again. They may feign like they are helping you for the first 30 days because they are legally responsible for you [because most U.S. based Contractors cannot fire you until you are MIA for a month]. But after those thirty days is up they will stop answering your calls and throw you to the wolves.
And I am not talking about going through some 3rd world customs with a shit-load of tactical gear and firearms accessories like what happened to Nicholas Moody. Most of us now know now that you cannot travel with all that shit anymore.
What I am talking about is something that you did not purposely pack, some little thing that either fell into your bag or is so small that you didn’t even know it was there.
Honestly even after years of traveling around the world I had never even heard of a Bag Dump until after I started working internationally as a Civilian Contractor.
Luckily I have never accidently had something that I should not have had in one of my bags. Considering the fact, that I pack like an 1800’s British Colonial tourist that makes me one lucky mo-fo.
So what exactly is the “Bag Dump”? Well, the current and former military folks here are probably aware of it but for the civilians like myself let me explain.
- The Bag Dump is when you clear a good sized spot out on the floor and individually lay out every single thing that you are going to pack out in a neat manner.
- Then you take whatever bag you are going to pack and lay it down also. Then you go through every single nook and cranny, every corner, under the hard bottom, in every pocket and then you turn it inside-out and visually inspect every inch again.
- After you have inspected your bag set it to the side. Then take the items you are going to pack in the order you are going to pack them and pretty much do the same thing. Turn them inside-out, upside-down and give them a shake.
- After you are sure that the item is “clear” pack it in your bag. Repeat with everything else
- Then Lock your bag and tape any external zippers down [the ones you cannot lock]. I know many guys who don’t lock their bags until they are ready to hop in a car to the airport.
Why? It will prevent you from not thinking if you have to open your “sterile’ bag to throw in that last shirt, the lock will remind you that this bag is clean and you should follow the same procedures when adding things.
And there are some people out there that may hate your guts and stick something into your bag to get your ass locked up [yep, it has happened].
And that is a Bag Dump – Sure it is tedious as fuck, but it is better than getting corn-holed in some Middle Eastern prison for the next year.
Just to make things clear what should you be looking for? [NOTE: this is by no means a comprehensive list, it is just off the top of my head]:
- Ammo Any live or spent ammunition, including links. Yes, a single spent brass will be looked at from a legal standpoint just as if you were smuggling an AK-47.
- Any Medical Supplies IV’s, syringes, auto-injectors – all of that stuff. Basically any medical kit that can cut, puncture or would normally be a restricted item in the West.
- Medication Maybe you got some antibiotics or pain killers from the TMC or from your Dr. stateside and had it in your bag when moving from one room to another. Well when you had the baggie in your suitcase one fell out and is now wedged in the corner.
So when you arrive in Amman, Jordan on a layover to Baghdad and the customs guy finds it in your bag – you are now an international dope smuggler.
- Pyrotechnics You know those tiny flares that you use with pen flares? That is the same as a live grenade in some countries. Pretty much anything that has a tactical or military applications and burns is a no-no.
That is the short-list, there are literally dozens of other shit that will get you man-raped in an Istanbul prison but those are the main ones.
Like I said above, this is tedious as fuck, but a necessary evil if you are around any “tactical” stuff and you travel internationally. And if you don’t think that “it” will happen to you – well, that is what other guys thought before they ended up in a 3rd world jail.
~James G Founder - Editor in Chief
James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and Dumping His Bags. James G. on FACEBOOK