Rise in number of Malaysian drug mules nabbed abroad

SUBANG JAYA • There is an increasing trend of Malaysians being used to transport drugs, with some of them taking up the roles voluntarily to get cash, said the country's top narcotics chief.

Twenty-three Malaysians were caught as drug mules in Hong Kong alone last year, the federal police's Narcotics Crimes Investigations Department deputy director Zulkifli Ali was quoted as saying by Malay Mail online news yesterday.

"I myself was shocked when I was briefed of how many were arrested overseas," he said, speaking at a news conference at the Subang Jaya district police headquarters.

"There is also a significant increase in locals getting arrested in Australia and South Korea," said Mr Zulkifli, who is also senior assistant commissioner.

Most of them offered to act as mules for between RM5,000 and RM10,000 (S$1,650 and $3,300) if they made a successful run.

"They will first be given a deposit payment, and then, the remainder once they return safely. But if their luck runs out and (they) are caught, they don't get paid," he said, as quoted by Malay Mail.

Earlier last week, eight Malaysians were charged with drug trafficking in Incheon, South Korea, after they were caught with a total of 13.3kg of methamphetamine.

They were accused of attempting to smuggle the drugs worth some RM161.4 million into South Korea from Malaysia, via the Incheon and Gimhae international airports, on five occasions from Dec 27 last year to Jan 17 this year.

The drugs were packed into 1kg to 2kg bags and strapped to the suspects' thighs and abdomens before attempts to pass through security.

Mr Zulkifli was quoted by Bernama news agency in December as saying 425 Malaysian drug mules were detained by the authorities of 19 countries between 2013 and October last year.

He said Singapore recorded the highest number of Malaysian drug arrests, with 175 people languishing in its prisons.

This was followed by Indonesia, where 85 Malaysians had been arrested, 49 in Thailand, 34 in Australia and 21 in Japan.

In December, Mr Zulkifli said that international syndicates, often masterminded by African nationals, were recruiting Malaysians, especially women, by financing their flights to certain countries.

The women were given RM2,000 in pocket money and promised RM5,000 to RM10,000 if they succeeded in their shady missions.

Meanwhile, Mr Zulkifli said that the Malaysian police seized nearly 93kg of ketamine from a drug dealer's car on Friday along Jalan Jengka in Pahang state, The Star online news reported yesterday.

"The drugs were found in sacks at the back of his car," he said, adding that two suspects were in custody.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Rise in number of Malaysian drug mules nabbed abroad'. Print Edition | Subscribe