Thursday, July 23, 2009

Philippines alarmed over growing number of 'drug mules'

Thu, 23 Jul 2009
by DPA

Manila - The Philippine government on Thursday warned Filipino women against international drug syndicates that trick women into becoming unsuspecting "drug mules" to transport narcotics in Vietnam, Cambodia and China. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it received a report from the Philippine embassy in Hanoi about a growing number of Filipino women being used as couriers in the drug trade in the Indo-China region.

According to the embassy report, international drug syndicates recruit Filipino women by enticing them with a job offer that involves a lot of travel and pays 2,000 dollars per trip - a huge salary by Philippine standards.

Their contact buys plane tickets for them from the Philippines to China via Vietnam, the report said.

"The contact, now supposedly a benefactor, asks the Filipino a favour which involves bringing to China a present or an item from a friend based in Cambodia," it added. "The unsuspecting Filipino, thinking that she is doing her benefactor a favour, agrees."

From Vietnam, the victims usually travel to Cambodia by bus to pick up the items they will carry and return to Hanoi for their flights to China.

"The victims were banking on the job promised them in China, and for them, bringing personal items to China for their benefactor is just a small favour in exchange for the job," the Embassy said.

The embassy discovered the scheme when a Filipino woman sought assistance after she was stranded in Vietnam for failing to bring the package she was supposed to deliver to China for a Nigerian drug syndicate.

"The Nigerian contact in Cambodia had a miscommunication with the Filipino and the Nigerian contact in China," the embassy said.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, 111 Filipinos, mostly women, were arrested for drug-related offences in China, Hong Kong and Macau in 2008. The figure was up from 16 Filipinos arrested in 2007.

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