In a disturbing report by the Inquirer in Manila,, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs this week warned overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) against unscrupulous individuals who ask or “contract” them to carry items or baggage from Iran to another city in Asia in exchange for money or leisure trips.
In his report to the DFA, Philippine Ambassador to Tehran Generoso Senga said a growing number of Filipino workers in or transiting from Iran got involved in drug trafficking as mules. He said that Filipino victims were asked to bring a certain item or baggage from Iran to another country, usually Bangkok, Thailand or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Early this month, two Filipinos were arrested by Iranian authorities for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country.
The victims said they were lured by offers of lucrative salaries in exchange for the seemingly easy task of transporting a package with their baggage. The package, upon inspection by the Iranian customs, contained illegal drugs.
Under Sharia law, drug smuggling is punishable by life imprisonment or death by hanging.
“The public is also advised to be vigilant when offered similar job offers in Iran and to first check the veracity of the job being offered with the Department of Labor and Employment or the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency,” the DFA said.
In a related development, Chinese authorities said foreign young women, including Filipinos, are the target of foreign drug traffickers who want them to bring in illegal drugs into their country.
The China Daily, in its report on March 24, 2010, said that young women were seen by international drug traffickers as easy to manipulate or trick into transporting drugs especially when money and relationships were involved. They are usually not the priority target of customs officials for inspections.
Last month, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation busted an international drug syndicate using mostly OFWs as “mules” with the arrest of three West African nationals believed to be the group’s leaders and a Filipino woman while on their way to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark Field, Pampanga. Seized from them were several capsules containing 500 grams of cocaine.
The foreigners were identified as Mazibane Phemelo Cassim, Marcel Bakayoko, and Camara Ibrahima Sekou, of Guinea-Bissai in West Africa, while the Filipina believed to be their cohort was Elisa Quiros Dimalanta. The NBI said she was used by the syndicate to recruit mostly OFWs as mules who were paid fees from $2,500 to $3,000 each.
NBI Director Nestor Mantaring Mantaring said the agents arrested the suspects while accompanying three of their recruits to the airport, where they were to depart for China.
He said the NBI operation was in response to the increasing number of OFWs arrested in China and other countries for drug smuggling.
Aside from China, Mantaring disclosed that the mules were being sent to neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Korea and as far away as Brazil and Ecuador in South America.
In particular, he cited a report from the Philippine embassy in Beijing regarding the increasing cases of OFWs who have been convicted and sentenced to death or to long prison terms for drug trafficking.
So far, 185 Filipinos, mostly women, have been detained in various jails in China despite warnings from Beijing that it has adopted more stringent measures against drug smugglers. Source: The Inquirer