MANILA - The Philippine Embassy in Hanoi reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) an increasing trend in the use of Filipinas as “mules” in the drug trade.
The DFA, in a statement, divulged that the modus operandi of illegal drug trafficking syndicates involve unsuspecting women whom the syndicate either harass or pay. A Nigerian drug syndicate usually contacts a Filipino in China who promises an unsuspecting Filipina a job that involves a lot of traveling with a salary of US$2,000 per trip. The contact buys the plane ticket for the trip from the Philippines to China via Vietnam, where the unsuspecting Filipina is instructed to obtain a Chinese visa.
The statement further said the contact, now supposedly a “benefactor,” asks the Filipina a favor which involves bringing to China a present or an item from a friend based in Cambodia. The unsuspecting Filipina, thinking that she is doing her “benefactor” a favor, agrees and exits Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam for Phnom Penh, Cambodia by bus.
From Cambodia, the unsuspecting Filipina, now a “mule”, goes back to HCMC to take a direct flight to China, or proceeds to Hanoi to take a bus trip to Manning, China.
The embassy learned of the modus operandi from a Filipina who sought assistance after she was stranded in Vietnam from Cambodia.
The Filipina failed to bring with her the package for delivery to China, as the Nigerian contact in Cambodia had a miscommunication with the Filipina and the Nigerian contacts in China. The prospective “mule” said the package was a pair of slippers with bulging soles, which she was supposed to bring in a bag. During the Embassy’s interview with the Filipina, it dawned on her that she may have become unknowingly involved in illegal drug trafficking. The embassy said this might partly explain why some of those caught trafficking drugs claimed they did not know anything about the illegal drugs found in their possession. The victims were banking on the job promised them in China, and for them, bringing “personal things” to China for their benefactor is just a small favor in exchange for the job.
The embassy also learned of incidents where three Filipino women traveled from Manila to HCMC because of an offer by a Nigerian national for these women to “deliver” five to 10 pieces of T-shirts from HCMC to China for a fee of $500-600 per person.
The T-shirts could have been immersed in liquefied illegal drugs and then dried before delivery.
Earlier, the Philippine Embassy in Beijing appealed to all concerned to heed the Philippine government’s numerous warnings and not allow themselves to be used as drug couriers by drug syndicates. China and other countries strictly impose harsh penalties against persons caught in possession of or trafficking of prohibited or dangerous drugs. - PNS