MANILA — Authorities cautioned Filipino travelers to be wary of recruiters targeting victims to become drug mules on international flights.
In a press briefing, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) presented three suspects who were arrested in operations in Pasay City and Pasig City for attempting to ship out 3.297 kilos of cocaine in cover pages of children’s books destined for Bangkok, Thailand .
The suspects were identified as Ma. Clara Bedico, Alvin Avila and Antonette Mendiola.
Bedico and Avila, who were recruited by Mendiola, were arrested last March 28 at a fastfood restaurant at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with five sealed children’s books in their luggage.
Cursory inspection showed that powdery substance later confirmed to be cocaine were stuffed on the inner portion of the hardbound covers of the books.
The books were in Spanish and seemed to be published for small children.
The NBI said members of the Western African Drug Syndicate (WADS) ,through their Filipina partners, recruit women to be couriers through work abroad schemes posted on Facebook.
Emeterio Dongallo Jr., chief NBI Special Action Unit (SAU), said the modus operandi of the drug smugglers seems to be to take advantage of the country’s visa-free entry to Thailand.
Donggalo placed the estimated street value of the contraband at around PHP30 to 45 million.
Government figures, however, have placed the street value of cocaine at a little over PHP5,000 per gram or just over PHP15 million for three kilos.P
Benjamin Pulta / PNA – northboundasia.com