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Drug smugglers recruit OFWs through social networking sites

  • Written by Alfred Dalizon
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 2522

WEST African Drug Syndicates or WADs have become known for befriending and later courting and even marrying Filipina “drug mules” they meet through social networking sites specifically Facebook, a fact which has prompted the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to ask Filipinos to be wary of the modus being employed by these foreign drug traffickers.
   
OFW Mary Ann Veloso claimed while inside an Indonesian prison facility that a “black boyfriend” of a Pinay friend and another “black and heavily-built man” provided her with a backpack which was found concealing heroin when checked by Indonesian airport authorities.
   
In the past, the PDEA said that WADs members usually spot and meet would-be drug mules through the Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Taggedthen befriending or marrying the potential recruit and turning him/her into a cohort; recruiting through casual acquaintances in key cities here or abroad; posing as tourists; providing plane tickets and hotel accommodations for the courier; and offering US$3,000 up to US$15,000 for every successful transaction, depending on the amount of drugs to be delivered or the route to be traveled.
   
According to PDEA head Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac Jr., drug “mules” hide their illegal cargo in secret compartments of their suitcase, shoes, books or clothes they are wearing; or place them at the bottom part of luggage, inside handbag, in shoeboxes, bottles, parcels, etc.
   
Others,  go as far as wrapping the drugs around their body, undergoing minor surgery just to put the drugs inside their body or ingesting the dangerous drugs to avoid detection.
   
Officials said “swallowers” are known for swallowing latex condoms or fingers of latex gloves filed with drugs before recovering the package from their feces.

“Swallowers” reportedly can transport around 500 to 900 grams of drugs as proven from the arrest of a Filipino at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport a few years ago.       
   
In some cases, female drug couriers are also asked to insert the package into their “private parts” while male drug mules are instructed to insert the drugs directly into their anuses. Officials said these methods are common but dangerous way of smuggling small amounts of drugs since a courier can die if a drug packet bursts or leaks before exiting the body.
   
Cacdac said the public should be wary of people offering easy money and work abroad especially when the nature of the job is unclear. He also asked OFWs and other travelers to avoid bringing other people’s luggage or packages even while being offered with money since “you could end up an unwitting drug mule.”
   
Official records showed that as of July 2014, there were 807 Filipinos composed of 401 males and 406 females currently being held in different foreign jails for drug-smuggling, at least 220 of them in China where narcotics trafficking is also a major offense punishable by death.