A former soldier suffered permanent abdominal damage after he smuggled 150 packets of cannabis into Britain – which split inside him, a court heard.
John Spear, 47, ingested three-quarters of a kilogram of the drug before boarding a flight from Malaga in Spain to Britain.
The ex-Irish guardsmen was stopped by customs officers at Gatwick Airport and his bags were searched but nothing was found.
But an X-ray revealed he had swallowed a large quantity of cannabis resin worth £2,140 and he was arrested.
Spear, from Exeter, Devon, was able to ”produce” several of the packets but within hours suffered ”significant” health problems.
He was rushed to East Surrey Hospital in Reigate where surgeons operated and retrieved the remaining packets.
But since since his arrest in December he is still unwell and is due to undergo two more operations, Croydon Crown Court was told.
Spear pleaded guilty to drug smuggling and was given a 12 month sentence suspended for two years and a three month untagged curfew from 10pm to 6am.
Raymond Barnett, defending, said Spear had suffered ”permanent damage” by swallowing the drugs.
He said: ”What was taken out of his innards caused him difficulty, and he faces an uncertain future. He is unlikely to be able to work again.”
The court heard he had agreed to swallow the drug to pay off debts even though it was ”barely commercially viable”.
Mr Recorder Hammerton said: ”I accept that the surgery has caused serious medical problems you now have and are likely to have to undergo two more abdominal operations.”