August 9, 2022

The Editor speaks: Drug mules

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Colin Wilson

A mule is often described as a stupid animal and it is an apt name given to someone who acts as a courier who smuggles drugs into a foreign country, usually by swallowing it. This is after the drugs have been emptied into a ballon eg. condom, or latex glove.

A drug mule may swallow dozens upon dozens of balloons.

A case being tried in the Cayman courts involves two such drug mules who arrived here from Colombia after swallowing sixty pellets of uncut liquid cocaine wrapped in condoms.

Shockingly involved is a customs officer. This officer organised the flights and hotel rooms, obtained the supplies and equipment needed to transform the liquid into powder. This officer also sent money from Western Union at Foster’s West Bay to the dealers,

The practice of swallowing drug filled balloons has been used for decades to transport drugs without detection. Mules are generally paid a small percentage of what their cargo will yield in illegal drug sales once they get into another country. Their work puts their lives at great risk with every package they swallow.

These drug mules often get sick. The balloons frequently burst open in their stomachs and the contents get into the their bodies. They became very sick and usually die.

Unfortunately it’s a way to make quick money and it is hard to detect a mule by the authorities.

The media outlets on the Internet are full of articles about these drug mules, who are normally the very poor,

Most do it for the money because they have no job. They are desperate.

It’s a way to make quick money but not a healthy one. Some also do it because they face threats but I understand that is not the norm.

In some countries drug mules who are caught face the death penalty.

With no such harsh penalty here I am wondering exactly what the sentencing of our drug carriers will be,

Traffickers make sure mules have as little information as possible so we are lucky to have caught them and others in the ring.

My research has told me “there is no academic evidence that harsh penalties deter criminals (in fact, just the mere likelihood of getting caught may be more significant a deterrent). And, in fact, only about 15% of drugs is carried over borders by mules – the rest travels in small quantities sent in the mail, or concealed in large shipments of legal goods. Some also travels concealed in yachts or other boats. Even if all mules could be halted, this would have little impact on drug availability.

Therefore being a drug mule is just plain dumb. Just like a proper mule. I apologise to all mules.

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