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Nepal cops: Smuggler hid drugs in Buddhist prayer wheels

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Police in Nepal have arrested a U.S. man who was allegedly a member of a smuggling ring that sent illegal drugs into the United States by concealing them in Buddhist prayer wheels.

The drugs, which were also put into metal bowls, were sent via Federal Express, authorities said.

Police official Navraj Silwal said Kristian Peter Stiegler, 45, was detained while trying to send 2.5 pounds of hashish, a form of cannabis, and 2 pounds of suspected opium.

If tests confirm the substance is opium, Stiegler could face up to 20 years in prison.

However, Silwal said Stiegler would likely get a lighter sentence because he was cooperating in the investigation into the alleged drug ring.

'Hefty sum'
Silwal said Stiegler has lived in Nepal and India for three years and was suspected of sending several drug shipments.

The Himalayan News Service said hashish was allegedly sent to Europe, as well as to the United States.

It reported the smuggling ring was discovered when police in Dubai intercepted two parcels of hashish that Steigler had allegedly sent to a New Orleans woman.

"Stiegler used to send hashish to the woman via airmail in the form of parcels and the woman used to distribute the drug in black market for a hefty sum," Yadav Raj Adhikari, chief of the Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit, told the Himalayan News Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.