The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011
A Papua New Guinea national has been arrested in Manila for allegedly trying to smuggle US$300,000 (K900,000) worth of high-grade cocaine into the Philippines.
The Philippine national bureau of investigation (NBI) announced the arrest in Manila of two suspected couriers of the dreaded West African drug syndicate.
An NBI spokesman said the arrest of a Thai woman and a male PNG national showed that the syndicate had shifted to recruiting foreign “mules” instead of Filipinos to smuggle illegal substances in and out of the Philippines.
President Benigno Aquino earlier ordered the Philippine national police and the NBI to crack down on the West African syndicate operating in the country following the recent execution by lethal injection in China of three Filipinos – two females and a male – who were convicted of drug trafficking.
Before they were executed, the convicts said they were recruited by the syndicate’s cohorts in the Philippines to smuggle separately into China high-grade cocaine weighing from 4,000g to 6,000g each.
NBI narcotics agents started their surveillance of the two suspects on April 16 following reliable information that the Thai was to smuggle cocaine in and out of the Philippines.
The spokesman said NBI agents had observed the PNG national had been frequently visiting the Thai woman although they were booked into separate rooms in a pension house in Manila.
The spokesman said the surveillance bore fruit when agents arrested the PNG national carrying a package containing more than a kilogram of cocaine which had been converted into capsules.
“We noticed the shift to using foreigners as mules to smuggle drugs in and out of the Philippines because it will now be harder for Filipino couriers to leave the country due to the crackdown on the West African syndicate,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The syndicate reportedly recruits couriers with fee as high as $5000, including free air travel and hotel accommodation, to smuggle illegal drugs in and out of Asia, Europe, the US and South America. – The Gulf Today