A drug mule from Colombia was nabbed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for trying to smuggle P8.8 million worth of 79 pellets of cocaine, the Airport Drug Interdiction Task Group said on Tuesday. Alberto Pedroza Quijano, 67, who swallowed the pellets of cocaine, was arrested last Sunday afternoon at NAIA Terminal 3 on a tip from the United States government that the suspect would be bringing in the illegal drugs into the country. Joint operatives from the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) accosted Quijano several minutes after he arrived on board Emirates Airline Flight EK332 from Dubai. He was immediately brought to the Pasay General Hospital where he underwent x-ray medical scanning procedure. Attending hospital staff later found rubber pellets in his stomach. The operatives said it took more than 24 hours before the medical staff to flush out the rubber pellets from the suspect. The substance later was brought to the PDEA laboratory for examination, while Quijano underwent a drug test. A drug mule or courier is capable of swallowing balloons containing illicit drugs and then transport the illegal drugs across borders, authorities said. The authorities added that once the drug mules reach their destination, these balloons are retrieved from the courier’s body. A drug mule can swallow up to 120 balloons and during their journey, they take medication to inhibit bowel movement. Once they have reached their destination, they are fed laxatives and the balloons pass through their bodies, the authorities said. In December 2015, a Venezuelan drug mule was caught with more than a kilogram of cocaine. Andres Rodriguez, 39, arrived from Abu Dhabi on board Philippine Airlines Flight PR657. He ingested 92 pellets of cocaine. Last year, airport authorities made at least 15 arrests against suspected foreign drug couriers.
Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said they are sending a strong message to drug syndicates that the “law enforcement agencies are joining hands to fight their way to a drug-free country in order to provide a safe environment that is conducive for development.”