A 28 year-old Panamanian woman was stopped at the El Prat airport in Barcelona and searched by police after acting suspiciously. The ensuing search snared 1.8 kilos of cocaine stashed in her breasts, the result of an operation performed at the instruction of drug traffickers that left her chest soaked in blood.
The woman was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors removed the several bags filled with cocaine from her chest, likely saving her life in the process. This arrest is yet another example of how far (or low) drug smugglers will go to traffic their goods.
Drug mules, or smugglers, have become an increasingly common part of the landscape in Indonesia, especially among Indonesian women. As is the case in other parts of the world, impoverished women, often single mothers, are lured into drug trafficking by predatory male traffickers.
The booming Indonesian drug market nets drug cartels over $4 billion annually, making it a prime target for drug traffickers seeking female mules. The men, usually foreign, court the women and take them to their home countries, then force them to carry drugs back into Indonesia, their only chance to return to the lives and families they left behind.
The means traffickers use to smuggle their drugs range from hiding them in clothing and luggage to implanting them in body orifices and “body packing,” where the drugs are placed in latex wrappings—usually condoms—then swallowed by the drug mule. The large volume of pellets swallowed, usually numbering over 100 and containing over a kilogram of drugs, puts those attempting to smuggle them at risk for injury that often leads to death.
To reduce the risk of illness or injury, mules are sometimes given tablets to reduce acid production in the stomach, as well as medications that inhibit bowel movements. Once the smuggling operation is complete, the mules are given laxatives that allow the drug-filled pellets to pass through the digestive system.
If caught, drug carriers often face stiff prison sentences, and even death. Drug trafficking is punishable by firing squad in Indonesia.
- Moran, Lee. “That’s a REAL drugs bust! Woman seized at Spanish airport with two bags of cocaine implanted INSIDE her breasts.” Mail Online. 12 December 2012. Web. 13 December 2012.
- Beller, Sarah. “Indonesian Women Preyed on by Drug Traffickers.” The Fix. 03 December 2012. Web. 13 December 2012.