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.”

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