CHIANGRAI TIMES –Thai women duped into carrying drugs by African boyfriends. A High Number of women from Thailand have been jailed in Hong Kong for smuggling drugs, having been deceived by a Nigerian drug cartel, which has been using them as dealers.
Deputy Consul General Suree Trairatananukool of the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Hong Kong said drug gangs had lured Thai women into smuggling drugs by asking them to become their girlfriends and inviting them to go abroad with them.
There are currently 71 Thais jailed in Hong Kong, of whom 55 are women, with 32 behind bars on drug charges, she told Thai News Agency online.
Some female victims willingly smuggled drugs while others were deceived by their foreign boyfriends – mostly from Africa and 80-90 per cent of them from Nigeria, Suree said.
Hong Kong is used as a channel for drug smuggling. Three or four Thais are arrested there each year on drug charges.
Suree said there are two versions of the courier scenario, both involving boyfriends who are drug cartel members. In both cases, the man tells his girlfriend he cannot join the trip on the departure day and lets her travel by herself. Leaving his baggage with her, he tells her someone will pick her up and she is to give them the baggage in Hong Kong.
In another scenario, the boyfriend claims he has problems and cannot join the trip. He will tell the girlfriend to leave for Thailand immediately once she arrives in Hong Kong, and tells her to pick up a return ticket and a package from his cousin who is already at Hong Kong airport.
The deceived women are arrested at either Hong Kong or Thai airports. In Hong Kong, suspects are given 26 years prison for drug cases, but in China the offence carries the death penalty.
In the case of a Thai arrested in Kunming, the Thai consulate general appealed for leniency, asking for imprisonment instead of execution. The appeal is now being processed. The death penalty was once given to a Thai suspect in a drugs case in Guangzhou.
Police officers in Hong Kong usually take charge of drug cases until the last stage and only then inform the Consulate-General, which by then cannot provide much assistance to the Thai suspects.
The most common drugs being smuggled are methamphetamine and cocaine, Suree noted.