Pubdate: Wed, 10 Aug 2005
Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP)
Copyright: 2005 Saipan Tribune
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


The Philippine Consulate General on Saipan yesterday issued an advisory 
from the Department of Foreign Affairs warning the country's overseas 
contract workers to be wary of syndicates employing unsuspecting Filipinas 
to serve as drug couriers.

In the advisory, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo 
warned all overseas foreign workers, or OFWs, to be cautious of 
unscrupulous people offering big money in exchange for acting as a drug 

This advisory came after two Filipinas were arrested only days apart at the 
Viru Viru International Airport in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for possession and 
attempting to smuggle cocaine.

Secretary Romulo said, "We cannot allow our nationals to be victimized by 
these criminal drug syndicates." The Department of Foreign Affairs will 
work closely with the law enforcement agencies in the Philippines and in 
other countries in combating this modus operandi that targets the 
vulnerability of the Filipina."

Meanwhile, Romulo has instructed Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant 
Workers Affairs Jose Brillantes "to place a high priority on this matter."

The criminals' modus operandi to deceive prospective drug couriers was 
described as follows:

- -Jobs are usually offered to Filipino women to work in an Asian capital, 
although only tourist visas are issued to the applicants;

- -Once abroad, the Filipino is ordered to stay in a hotel for a number of 
days and is only given phone numbers of contact persons in the country 
where the Filipino is staying;

- -After sometime, a foreign national will meet the Filipino at her hotel. It 
is at this time that the Filipino is informed that she is to deliver 
something to some South American destination;

- -The Filipino will be given plane tickets, usually roundtrip, from the 
Asian capital to a Latin American country via Europe and back, as well as 
some "payment for services";

- -While in the Latin American country, another foreign national will meet 
the Filipino at a predetermined hotel to get her luggage and will 
eventually return the same luggage to her, but this time containing illegal 
drugs, i.e. cocaine, concealed among the packed belongings from her return 
trip to Asia;

- -In case of arrest, the duped Filipino victims are sentenced to long-term 
imprisonment, or death, depending on the amount of illegal drugs found in 
her possession and the place of the arrest.

The Philippine Consulate General on Saipan, CNMI, reiterates the Philippine 
government's advisory for Filipinos to be vigilant and encourages all to 
report to the Consulate General at telephone numbers 234-1848 or 
234-1850/51 any information on individuals attempting to recruit Filipinos 
for drug-related activities.
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MAP posted-by: Beth