A total of 425 Malaysian drug mules have been detained by the authorities in 19 countries since 2013 until October this year, said Bukit Aman Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) principal assistant director Zulkifli Ali.
Zulkifli, in an exclusive interview with Bernama, said Singapore recorded the highest number of Malaysian drug mules, with 175 people languishing in its prisons.
This is followed by Indonesia with 85 Malaysians arrested, Thailand (49), Australia (34) and Japan (21).
“In Latin American countries such as Argentina and Brazil, there are two Malaysians in custody each, while one is detained in Peru," he said.
As Zulkifli noted, however, the number of Malaysian drug mules arrested abroad had been declining since 2016, when 101 locals were incarcerated, before it dropped to 58 people in 2017, and as of October this year, only 39.
He attributed this to continuous enforcement by authorities, especially the police, against the syndicates by carrying out special operations in efforts to combat this heinous crime, he said.
Zulkifli added that the international syndicates, often masterminded by African nationals, had been recruiting and hiring Malaysians, especially women by financing their flights to travel to certain countries.
The women would be given RM2,000 pocket money and promised a reward of between RM5,000 and RM10,000 once they succeeded in their mission.
“It is an easy way to earn money as finance is the main factor for them to commit these crimes, even though they themselves are fully aware of the risks involved.
“The victims, either married to the syndicate members or otherwise, will be asked to smuggle the drugs and if they succeed, these women will also recruit their friends for the same purpose,” he said.
Zulkifli said based on the intelligence, Nigerian nationals were believed to be the main culprits in luring Malaysian women.
Most of these syndicates were based in several countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and China.
The syndicates’ members entered the country using student passes or business visas to establish relationships with local women.
Zulkifli also noted that Malaysians were also involved in smuggling drugs such as syabu abroad by using the 'body packing' method (drugs attached to body using adhesive tape, glue or straps).
In November alone, four locals had been detained atKLIA2 for allegedly trying to smuggle out more than 4kg of syabu to South Korea.