HomeNewsBriefDrug Mule ‘X-Ray’ Illustrates Smugglers’ Predicament
BRIEF

Drug Mule ‘X-Ray’ Illustrates Smugglers’ Predicament

16 SEP 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Images from a scan carried out on an Irish man who apparently attempted to transport almost a kilo of cocaine concealed in his stomach from Brazil to Portugal illustrate the risk inherent in working as a “drug mule.”

On September 12, Brazilian officials stopped an Irishman as he was attempting to board a flight from Sao Paolo to Lisbon, Portugal. Nervous and edgy, the 20 year-old struck police as acting suspiciously. As it happened, he had good reason to feel anxious: hours earlier he had swallowed 72 sausage-shaped bags of cocaine, totaling 830g of the drug in total. Authorities estimate that the stash would have been worth more than $200,000 on the European market.

This is a fairly common method of smuggling used by individuals known as “mules,” who are frequently employed by drug trafficking organizations to carry drugs across borders. The method has been used for decades by criminal groups in cocaine-producing countries such as Colombia and Peru, and its high rates of pay ensures that there will be no shortage of recruits in the future. According to a 2008 IPS report on the phenomenon, drug mules in Peru can make up to $1,000 for one trip carrying cocaine into nearby Brazil or Argentina, and as much as $3,000 to smuggle the drug into the U.S., Europe or Asia.

But as the incredible medical images of the young Irishman below illustrate, working as a drug mule is not without risk. The individual had ingested one small packet after another of cocaine, and was no doubt intensely uncomfortable as they sat lodged in his intestines. It is not uncommon for the bags to break open while inside the mules, causing death by overdose.

1580

Image credit: AFP – Getty Images

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…