The National Narcotics Agency ( BNN ) said on Wednesday that hundreds of Indonesian women were now working in the South American country of Peru as couriers in a global drug smuggling network.
The deputy chief of the BNN’s drug eradication division, Insp. Gen. Benny Jozua Mamoto, said that many of the Indonesian drug mules were now in the custody of the Peruvian police.
“Next week, I will fly to Peru to interview some Indonesian women who have been working as drug mules. They have been arrested by the Peruvian police,” Benny told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
According to Benny, the Indonesian women pick up the drugs in Peru and smuggle them to other countries in the world. Benny said that the women were allegedly part of a drug-trafficking syndicate based in Nigeria.
Nigeria has long been known as a haven for drug trafficking syndicates that ship heroin from Asian countries to European and American countries, and cocaine from South American countries to European and southern African countries.
Peru, meanwhile, is known as a source of coca, the basic ingredient of cocaine.
“They get the job of smuggling the drugs from Peru to other countries, like the Philippines and Timor Leste,” he said.
Benny said that most of the women who ended up working as drugs mules came from poor families who took up the job on invitation from friends and relatives.
“They are recruited from many villages throughout Indonesia and from their workplaces in foreign countries,” he said.
Benny said that some of the drug mules apprehended by the Peruvian police formerly worked as migrant workers.
Becoming members of the drug trafficking syndicates was a feasible option because it offered more money, Benny said.
One such drug mule is Dwi Wulandari, who was arrested by the Philippines authorities for attempting to smuggle drugs last September.
Dwi, a former migrant worker, was arrested after customs officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines found 8.7 kilograms of cocaine worth US$973,948 hidden in her luggage.
Benny said that Dwi’s boss would give her $550 every time she transited through any country.
“These women have received training on how to book a room in a hotel and to pass customs officers at airports,” Benny said.
BNN would collaborate with authorities in Peru to investigate the cases and take preventive measures.
Contacted separately, chairman of the Anti-Narcotics Movement ( Granat ) Henry Yosodiningrat said that he was saddened by the news.
Henry also suspected that the Peruvian situation was only the tip of the iceberg and called on the BNN to extend its investigation.
“There must be more Indonesians that are involved in drugs trafficking syndicates in many other countries,” he said.
Henry also urged the Indonesian justice system to impose more severe punishments on anyone attempting to smuggle drugs, given the disastrous consequences of their actions.
“Even though they are not the boss, they should also receive heavy sentences. Otherwise they could bring those drugs into their own country, Indonesia,” he said.
He said that Indonesian justice system should also severely punish the female drug mules arrested in Peru.
“They [Indonesians that are involved in international drug trafficking syndicate] should receive maximum sentences regardless of their motives,” he said.
Earlier, the The National Police had said that foreign nationals were playing a larger role in smuggling drugs and firearms into Indonesia.
National Police Criminal Investigation Division chief Comr. Gen. Sutarman said that the foreign drug lords working in Indonesia were more dangerous than their local counterparts as they also smuggled firearms.
Sutarman said that foreign drug smugglers entered the country through the nation’s porous sea borders. Transshipment, wherein international cargo ships stop at secluded areas offshore and transfer drugs to waiting local vessels, is also increasingly common, according to the police. ( riz )