Situation: The emerging trend in transporting illegal drugs using Filipino “drug couriers” poses a major concern for our government, especially for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The present situation on drug couriers involves underlying problems like serious threats to health, human trafficking and human rights violation.
Drug mules or “drug couriers” are individuals who transport dangerous drugs in exchange for a huge amount of money. Syndicates offer US$ 1,000.00 – 2,000.00 to drug couriers for every delivery of drugs.
Several modes of transporting dangerous drugs have been observed. Some drug couriers hide their illegal “cargo” in secret compartments in their luggage…
Or placing them in secret compartments
While others go to as far as wrapping the drugs into their bodies…
Or ingesting the dangerous drugs to avoid detection. In extreme cases, female couriers are forced to insert the package into their private parts.
Most of the drugs recovered were either hidden in suitcases or swallowed. Others swallow illegal drugs using latex containers to avoid detection. “Swallowers” can transport around 500-900 grams of ingested illegal drugs placed in capsules or latex containers that shall be excreted later once they get to their destination.
Alarmingly, the number of Filipinos victimized as drug couriers by drug syndicates is increasing. In 1993, based on the records of the DFA, there were only 2 recorded Filipinos arrested abroad for drug trafficking. At present, the figure ballooned to 689. Shown is the total number of arrested Filipino drug couriers as of January 2011:
Shown on the screen are the comparative data of arrested drug courier per year.
Of the 689 Filipinos arrested abroad, 88 are currently facing death penalty sentences in different countries for drug-related cases, as shown on the screen:
Shown on the screen are the penalties of different countries on drug trafficking and smuggling offenses.
The types of drugs usually smuggled include heroin, shabu, cocaine and marijuana.
Modus operandi of the syndicates include: Unsuspecting victims were duped into carrying drugs w/o their knowledge. Syndicates also recruit potential victims through the internet or meet couriers through casual acquaintances. In some instances, members of syndicates marry locals then later turn them into couriers or cohorts. To recruit drug couriers, syndicates usually approach or befriend potential victim either here in the country or in foreign cities.
In China, syndicates usually approach a Filipino here in the country or in foreign cities like Macau and Hong Kong and offer him/her a job with a high salary. The couriers shoulder the airfare. However, once they get to the country of destination, syndicates provide hotel accommodation. For every delivery of drugs, couriers are offered more or less US$2,000.00 or around P90,000.00
Shown on the screen is the modus operandi of syndicate in Brazil
The drugs trafficked in Asia usually come from Nepal (6%), Malaysia (24%) , Thailand (7%), Philippines (6%), Vietnam (5%), and Macau (8%). 44% come from other countries. These drugs are then distributed to China (90%), Hongkong (9%) and Taiwan (1%).
In the worldwide arena, most of the drugs trafficked by the WADS come from their network in Peru, Brazil, UAE, Iran, and Africa. The couriers recruited in these countries are then asked to deliver the drugs in different countries in Asia as mentioned in the previous slide.
It has been observed that drug couriers and drug syndicates alike, mostly foreigners, are entering the country. This can be attributed to the high selling price of shabu in RP: syndicates smuggle shabu with the intention of selling and distributing it here in the country.
Most Filipino drug couriers from the northern part of Luzon, specifically NCR, CAR and Region 3, with reported incidences of couriers coming from Visayas and Mindanao.
The drug courier problem can be attributed to the following: prevalence of poverty, poor educational background of some of the couriers and unemployment made victims vulnerable to the lures of a high-paying job. On the other hand, some case folders reveal that Filipinos get involved in the drug business for the easy money and the idea of travelling. Syndicates provide plane tickets & hotel accommodation to couriers. When the courier delivers the drugs, he/she is paid around $2000.
It has been an observable trend that more female Filipino drug couriers are being exploited by drug trafficking syndicates as women generally generate mild suspicion from authorities and pose lesser detection risk. Of the 689 arrested drug couriers, 37% or 258 are males. On the other hand, 431 are females, composing 63% of the total number of arrests.
Because of this pressing problem on drug courier, PDEA initiated the implementation of Operation: “Kabayan” in October 2009 which led to the arrest of 3 members of the West African Drug Syndicate (WADS), identified as: Sunny Hop Otuwa (Lesotho), who was arrested in Olongapo City, and currently detained at the Olongapo City Jail. Franklin Onukogo and Nwagu Kinsley (Nigeria), who were arrested in Las Piñas City and are currently detained at the Las Piñas City Jail. Appropriate cases were then filed against the arrested members of the syndicate. However, the PDEA needs the operational and administrative support from other agencies in order to apprehend the well-organized and expanding drug syndicates continuously prowling on Filipinos as drug couriers.
In response, the President issued Administrative Order 279 on February 8, 2010 which created Task Force Drug Couriers (TFDC) to prevent Filipinos from being used as drug couriers. The TFDC is an inter-agency team tasked to deter, prevent and protect Filipinos from being exploited or victimized as drug couriers. Based on the EO, the TFDC’s budget will be sourced out from the Contingent Fund of the Office of President.
The TFDC is composed of 13 member agencies. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) co-chairs the Task Force with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and supported by 11 member agencies as members, as shown.
Immediately after the creation of TFDC, the PDEA, in coordination with the DFA, set the Task Force in motion by convening all its members and coming up with the TFDC 3-Year Action Plan focused on Prevention, Law Enforcement & Prosecution, and Coordination. The body agreed on the 3-year Action Plan which is composed of 19 doables with a total of P58 million funding requirement.
One major accomplishment of the Task Force, thru PDEA, within a short period is the conduct of Operation: “Homerun,” an international anti-drug operation covering Malaysia, Thailand, China and the Philippines. The said operation yielded positive and significant results as shown on the screen: Neutralization of members of WADS Seizure of dangerous drugs Rescue of a Filipina drug courier
Another accomplishment is the conduct of Operation: “Bull’s Eye”, an international anti-drug operation jointly implemented with the Hong Kong Police Narcotics Bureau The PDEA together with the conducted series of anti-drug operations in Hong Kong and the Philippines which resulted in the confiscation of 3 kilograms of cocaine.
The PDEA is also working with various sectors to raise knowledge and awareness of the Filipinos on the modus operandi of syndicates engaged in drug smuggling activities. It aims to address the responsibility, involvement and pro-activeness of Filipino travelers, OFWs, recruitment/travel agencies and other key sectors in relation to the thrusts, plans, and programs of the government in addressing the drug courier issue. The NALECC SCDDCC on the other hand is finalizing the posters for Operation: “Private Eye” to encourage the citizenry to report illegal drug activities in their areas. Once approved, the DDB will provide funds for printing of said posters.
The following are the recent accomplishments of the TFDC through the support given by members and concerned agencies.
At present, the Task Force faces challenges i.e. the lack of financial capability to launch an international operation and the prevalence of well-organized drug syndicates.
Based on intelligence assumptions and estimates, there are around 15 Filipinos who are supporting the syndicates in recruiting fellow Filipinos into drug trafficking here and abroad. Each of these cohorts recruits at least 50 Filipinos a year. If no significant actions will be made, we will face a dilemma of saving at least 700 Filipinos from the clutches of the syndicates per year and the exponential turn out of the case year after year.
Other challenges include the need for an active and strong cooperation with our international counterparts. Most of the perpetrators are international syndicates who are continuously prowling and waiting for a vulnerable Filipino victim. The PDEA has already requested for the release of funds of the TFDC to launch an international operation and to roll-out its plans and programs. The TFDC 3-Year Action Plan with a funding requirements of P58 Million was already forwarded to the Office of the President for approval. While waiting for the Action Plan and Budget approval, the PDEA and the TFDC Member agencies are continuously implementing small but significant projects which do not involve financial requirements. Conclusion The syndicates perpetrating the drug courier problem is well-organized, well-funded and continue to expand. This issue is becoming a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed by all government agencies involved in cooperation and coordination with our foreign counterparts. With an integrated and well-funded operation, sufficient financial and administrative support, and appropriate law, we can solve this seemingly formidable problem.
Drug courier problem as of 02 feb
<ul><li>Drug mules or “ drug couriers” are individuals who transport dangerous drugs in exchange for a huge amount of money </li></ul>
<ul><li>Couriers hide their illegal “cargo” in secret compartments in their luggage </li></ul>
<ul><li>Placing in secret compartments </li></ul>
<ul><li>Others go as far as wrapping the drugs into their bodies… </li></ul><ul><li>(also known as “body-packing”) </li></ul>
<ul><li>Or ingesting the dangerous drugs </li></ul><ul><li>to avoid detection… </li></ul><ul><li>In extreme cases, female couriers are forced </li></ul><ul><li>to insert the package into their private parts </li></ul>
689 in Jan 2011 2 in 1993 Increased incidence in arrest of Filipino drug couriers REGION MALE FEMALE AS OF JANUARY 2011 Asia and the Pacific 88 238 326 Middle East and Africa 26 60 86 Americas 60 92 152 Europe 84 41 125 TOTAL 258 431 689
Cases: Drug smuggling, trafficking, possession and manufacturing <ul><li>88 Drug-related death penalty cases of Filipinos : </li></ul><ul><li>79 in China </li></ul><ul><li>8 in Malaysia </li></ul><ul><li>1 in Saudi Arabia </li></ul>
<ul><li>Couriers are provided airfare </li></ul><ul><li>Couriers are forced to ingest the drugs or hide the drugs in his/her private parts </li></ul><ul><li>Syndicates provide hotel accommodation for few days </li></ul><ul><li>Couriers are paid US$1,500.00-2,000.00 per delivery of drugs </li></ul>
Old modus: Drugs are placed at the false bottom of the luggage of the courier New modus: mules are asked to swallow packets of drugs
Burma $9,000 China $17,000 South Korea $30,000 Japan $90,000 Philippines $100,000 Laos $4,000 Thailand $30,000 Malaysia $55,000 Indonesia $85,000 Singapore $70,000 Australia $82,000
DOLE Members BI BOC NBI PIA MIAA DOJ CHED OP-ES PNP ASG PTA PDEA Chairman DFA Co-Chairman
Strategic Areas Number of Doable Programs Funding Requirement <ul><ul><ul><li>Prevention </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>8 </li></ul></ul></ul>P 21,470,000 <ul><ul><ul><li>Law Enforcement and Prosecution </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>6 </li></ul></ul></ul>P 28,100,000 <ul><ul><ul><li>Coordination </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>5 </li></ul></ul></ul>P 8,430,000 <ul><ul><ul><li>TOTAL </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>19 </li></ul></ul></ul>P 58 Million
<ul><li>Operation: “Bull’s Eye” </li></ul><ul><li>Significant results include: </li></ul><ul><li>Rescue of 2 Filipina drug couriers </li></ul><ul><li>Seizure of 3 kgs of cocaine </li></ul><ul><li>Arrest of the syndicate members: </li></ul><ul><li>1 Mozambique (arrested in Hong Kong) </li></ul><ul><li>1 Togo National </li></ul><ul><li>1 Ghana </li></ul><ul><li>1 Thai Female </li></ul>
<ul><li>DFA </li></ul><ul><li>TFDC Communication and Advocacy Plan (w/ PIA) </li></ul><ul><li>Finalization of drug courier database (w/ TFDC Secretariat) </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring of drug courier cases </li></ul>
Each recruits at least 50 Filipinos a year 700 Filipinos under the clutches of the syndicates per year