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Customs Eyes Shoes for Hidden Drugs

October 06, 2000|MARC BALLON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sometimes a shoe is not just a shoe--at least not to the U.S. government.

Sha Sha shoes sport iridescent colors and funky designs in an effort to appeal to alternative rockers, club goers and other night crawlers, but they also feature a secret storage compartment beneath the insole.

The company, Sha Sha Fine Shoes Inc., says the 1-inch-deep slot can be used to store keys and maybe a few bucks. Or perhaps drugs, the U.S. Customs Service says.

U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Ray Kelly has sent out a warning to agents, as well as parents on the agency's Web site, that the Costa Mesa company's shoes also have been used to hide drugs, especially Ecstasy.

The unusual warning notwithstanding, the Customs Service has never seized drugs hidden in the shoes, spokesman Dean Boyd said.

Sha Sha has never advocated storing drugs or any other illicit substances in the shoes, CEO Billy Ruff said.

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