PITTSBURGH — Coconuts. Watermelons. Marshmallows.
Each one has been used to smuggle drugs into the United States, across the Pennsylvania Turnpike and into Pittsburgh.
But 11 Investigates learned about another technique that's gaining in popularity.
Trap cars are outfitted with secret compartments smugglers use to hide drugs, guns and even people.
11 Investigates' Aaron Martin traveled to New York City, where many of the drugs first enter the United States, to get an up-close look at the cars.
"It used to be a lot of the cartel guys," an NYPD investigator who would only go by Detective J, said. "But it's advanced so much and there are so many installers out there. Every shop's doing it."
Detective J is an expert in finding hidden traps, but his skill set makes him a target for drug dealers and other criminals. That's why Channel 11 has chosen to protect his identity.
He said criminals oftentimes disguise trap triggers as standard car parts, so they're not easy to spot.
"Headlights, brake lights, any type of switch that gives power, they're going to use it to power the trap and also mask us from trying to find it with a secret combination," he said.
Despite that, the NYPD says it seizes several trap cars a week.
DEA Special Agent Erin Mulvey said it's another example of just how far drug dealers are willing to go to keep their business running.
"We are very good at what we do," Mulvey said. "We do eventually find where drug traffickers smuggle and hide their drugs."
Cox Media Group