Authorities in Panama on Friday intercepted an unlikely smuggler, a fluffy white cat, bearing an assortment of drugs in a pouch tied to its body as it tried to enter a prison.

The feline felon was stopped outside the Nueva Esperanza jail, which houses more than 1,700 prisoners, in the Caribbean province of Colon, north of the capital Panama City.

"The animal had a cloth tied around its neck" that contained wrapped packages of white powder, leaves and "vegetable matter", according to Andres Gutierrez, head of the Panama Penitentiary System.

They were likely cocaine, crack and marijuana, according to another official.

This is not the first such attempted critter crime.

Prisoners use food to lure animals to them, once the creatures had been loaded with drugs by people on the outside.

The office of the drugs prosecutor of Colon said on Twitter it had opened an investigation into the use of animals for smuggling illegal substances into the Nueva Esperanza Prison.

It posted photographs of the drugs, and of the cat caught in the act.

The animal will be taken to a pet adoption centre, according to prosecutor Eduardo Rodriguez.

Panama has some 18,000 inmates in 23 prisons, most of them overcrowded.

On previous occasions, authorities have intercepted attempted drug deliveries using homing pigeons and even drones.

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