Syndicates smuggling drugs to Europe are now using local handicraft like batik, songket and woodcarvings to hide their activities.
The syndicates, especially from African countries, claim to be authorised importers from their respective countries when buying such items.
Syndicate members then entice local women to smuggle the drugs under the pretext of “exporting” authentic Malaysian products.
The items were to be sold throughout Europe.
Claiming that they had opened joint-venture companies based in Malaysia, the syndicates convinced local women to collect documents that were purportedly sales orders for the items in various European countries.
According to sources, the local women were further lured by the syndicates' promise to employ them as permanent workers if they carry out their “duties” well.
The women were paid pocket money, with some receiving up to RM30,000 depending on the amount of drugs they were carrying.
Previously, local women were tricked into becoming drug mules after falling in love with syndicate members who pretended to be their suitors, or were enticed by the lure of quick money.
Some of these women were confined and raped by syndicate members, and later forced to smuggle drugs.
The usual destinations for the drugs – commonly heroin, cocaine, ganja and syabu – were England, Germany, France and Spain.
City narcotics chief Assistant Commissioner Kang Chez Chiang said the syndicates’ latest ploy came to light in May after police rescued a 20-year-old woman just hours before she was to board a flight to Spain.
Three Africans, aged between 24 and 31, who duped the woman, were arrested at a condominium in Damansara Damai, Petaling Jaya.
ACP Kang said the syndicate paid for her passport, the flight tickets and pocket money for her “vacation.”
Last year alone, 80 Malaysians, 53 of whom have been charged, were arrested for drug offences in China, Singapore, Malta, Brazil, Peru, Taiwan, Venezuela, India, Spain and Portugal.
Up to July this year, 170 Malaysians, mostly women aged between 21 and 30, have been detained abroad.