Mules: the weakest link in drug trafficking

Known as mules, they carry narcotics from one country to another with increasingly ingenious and varied methods: in compartments hidden in suitcases, in shoes or clothes, and therefore in the body itself.

These are people who they ingest capsules with medication, Usually cocaine or heroin, inside latex gloves, condoms, to prevent normal digestive processes from ruining the merchandise. The mission is to ingest the capsules, to transport them from one country to another, to expel them, to clean them and to give them to another member of the narco organization who is in charge of receiving them.

In this mode of traffic, we will stop in this article.

    Mules: Who are the chosen ones?

    Usually, when recruiting mules from drug trafficking people with very limited resources and in poverty are wanted, In situations of great vulnerability, marginality, despair and lack of perception of opportunities to move forward, among other factors.

    By agreeing to transport medication they become criminals while being victims of criminal organizations that the conditions in which people who access this type of activity live are being abused. They give them the assurance that it is not a dangerous activity and that everything is fixed. They deceive them and promise security conditions which are not then met.

    And they don’t always access it voluntarily. They are often deceived, extorted to accomplish the task, forcing them to carry drugs by force and threat to themselves or their families. In other cases, they are victims of human trafficking networks.

    No less important fact is that airport security has a body scanner, which detects the capsules inside the body, so it is no coincidence that many mules are pregnant womenTo those who cannot have an x-ray, it is therefore more difficult for them to be arrested. They are like a perfect “container”, albeit the weakest and the most physically compromised.

      Lack of risk awareness

      The decision to be a mule in general is made by combining a vulnerable situation of hopelessness and hopelessness with a misconception that it is an activity that will easily generate money. It is seen as a possible opportunity and a means of subsistence.

      But this really easy “job” has nothing: it mainly involves risks to the health of the person (Poisoning, intestinal obstruction, peritonitis and if a capsule breaks it is very likely that its carrier will die) and exposes him to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment for possession and trafficking of narcotics. It will depend on the country where the mules are found.

      There are countries in which sentences can be up to 12 years in prison, Depending on the quantities trafficked and whether or not there is collaboration in the arrest and subsequent investigation. In other countries such as China and Indonesia, the penalties for drug trafficking mules can reach life imprisonment and even the death penalty.

      In the case of Argentina, and according to the report “Imprisonment for drug crimes in Argentina”, 7 foreign women out of 10 arrested are detained after acting like mules. The vast majority of female detainees are mothers and have young children, in situations of vulnerability, helplessness and emotional and financial deprivation.

        Disposable packaging

        Two months ago, a 19-year-old girl was found dead on a street in downtown Buenos Aires after two cocaine capsules exploded in her stomach (out of a total of 80).

        According to witnesses in the case, the young woman was thrown from a vehicle, so it is believed that other people involved in this network, facing her death, simply dismissed her. A container that is no longer in use should be discarded. Mules are no longer human for narcos, Are a necessary object in the chain of operations but replaceable.

        Lots of links to the narco channel

        When it works and the drug is brought to the desired point, it is thanks to a whole network of accomplices, ranging from the one who collects and stores the product, who recruits, who transports, who delivers the substance, who facilitates the procedures. the trip, who receives the goods, and any corrupt and necessary arrangements with airport or border security personnel.

        Mules and vendors commit crimes for which they are tried and imprisoned, however they are replaceable by other pairs. This is why his arrest barely touches the powerful narcos who, free and preserved, will continue to negotiate with the health and lives of the people.

        For the narco each mule is an object that stores its precious merchandise, its life does not matter, it is only important that the capsules reach their destination and without the slightest economic loss. It’s a multi-million dollar business that plays with life and death.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Corda, A. (2011). Imprisonment for drug crimes in Argentina.
        • Narcotics, prisons and “timely reforms”: the condemnations of the Minister of Justice, published on and consulted on 08/09/2017
        • The majority of foreign detainees are “mules”, available on and consulted on 08/09/2017

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