Colombian drug mule nabbed with cocaine worth P8.8-M

MANILA — Some P8.8 million worth of cocaine was recovered from a Colombian drug mule, who tried to smuggle the drugs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 over the weekend.

A tip from the United States government resulted in the arrest of the suspect, Alberto Pedroza Quijano, 67, who had swallowed 79 rubber pellets of cocaine.

Operatives of the Airport Drug Interdiction Task Group arrested Quijano after the US government tipped off the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency about Quijano’s arrival in Manila last Sunday.

The suspect arrived at the NAIA on board Emirates Airline flight EK-332 from Dubai.

Lawmen accosted and immediately brought the suspect to the Pasay General Hospital, where he underwent X-ray medical scanning procedure. Attending hospital staff later found rubber pellets in his stomach.

The medical staff took more than 24 hours excreting the rubber pellets from the suspect.

The substance was brought to the PDEA laboratory for examination, while Quijano underwent a drug test and was detained at the agency’s detention center.

Authorities said a drug mule is a type of courier capable of swallowing balloons containing illicit drugs and transports the illegal drugs across borders. Once they have reached their destination, these balloons are retrieved from the courier’s body.

They added a drug mule can swallow up to 120 balloons and during their journey, they take medication to inhibit bowel movement. Once they reach their destination, they are fed laxatives and the balloons pass through their bodies.

In December 2015, lawmen arrested a Venezuelan drug mule, who was caught with more than a kilogram of cocaine worth P6.6 million inside his body. Andres Rodriguez, 39, had ingested 92 pellets of cocaine and arrived from Abu Dhabi on board Philippine Airlines PR 657.

Last year, airport authorities made at least 15 arrests against suspected foreign drug couriers.

“We are sending a strong message to drug syndicates that the law enforcement agencies are joining hands to fight their way to a drug-free country in order to provide a safe environment that is conducive for development,” said Manila International Airport Authority general manager Eddie Monreal. Osias Osorio/