The term ‘drug mule’ often refer to a vulnerable or foolish person used by large-scale drug suppliers to transport drugs from one place to another, usually across borders.
Although drug transporters should normally take some responsibility for accepting the job, one Colombian case has called this into question due to the young age of the mule.
An eleven-year-old girl recently became Colombia’s youngest person to be charged after being used as a drug mule.
Her own father forced her to carry 104 cocaine-filled capsules in her stomach, which is equivalent to 500 and 600 grams.
The girl is currently in hospital in intensive care and Colombia has offered $10,000 for the capture of her father.
It appears that the girl was supposed to carry the drugs inside her from Colombia, where she was spending the weekend with her father, to Europe where she lived with her mother.
Instead, the girl was rushed to the hospital before boarding the plane.
Needless to say, the girl was not charged with any offences.
If she had been charged, she would almost certainly have raised the defence of ‘necessity’ and avoided a conviction anyway.
Many Colombians (and readers around the world) have been shocked and outraged by the 11-year-old’s case, and while Colombia, along with Peru, are the world’s largest producers of cocaine, activity by drug mules is also carried out right here in Australia.
75 year old Stelios Macris was charged with the commercial supply of prohibited drugs when his own son, Alex Macris, used him to unwittingly transport over 50 kilograms of meth oil – which can be used to make ice – in his Ford Falcon station wagon to the Central Coast.
Stelios believed the jerry cans contained petrol.
Whether or not he would have been found guilty and locked away for a long time will never be known for sure because Alex saved his father by admitting he was responsible.
But if Stelios had been charged, the prosecution would certainly have had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had knowledge that the drugs were there, or that he was at least reckless to that possibility.
His son Alex admitted that what he did to his father was a “low, dog act”, and that he only did it because he never thought police would have pulled over his unsuspecting father, who had never had a problem with the law.
Australians have also been targeted by international drug cartels who intend to smuggle enormous amounts of methamphetamine into Australia from Canada.
One unsuspecting and elderly Perth couple almost found themselves in lot of trouble when they ‘won’ a holiday to Canada, completely unaware that they were to be used in order to smuggle drugs back into Australia.
The couple was presented with a free, all-expenses-paid holiday, which included accommodation and new suitcases.
But on their return they began to have an inkling that something was not quite right after noticing that their luggage felt heavier.
The couple alerted authorities.
It turned out that their hunch was correct, as seven million dollars worth of drugs was hidden in their ‘winning suitcases’.
Each suitcase contained 3.5 kilograms of pure methamphetamine in rock form hidden inside.
Police were able to eventually capture a man waiting at the airport to collect the couple.
After searching his car and hotel room, police also found two other suitcases that were suspiciously similar to the ones that had been given to the couple.
Police had never seen any other similar schemes of this size but wonder how long similar operations have been going on, undetected.
Australian Federal Police Commander David Bachi has warned the community to exercise caution when given such ‘prizes’.
The 64-year-old wife of the couple, who only wants to be identified as Sue, was horrified that the scam could have put her and her husband in such grave danger of prison.
Drug importation is punishable by very lengthy prison sentences, potentially even life imprisonment.
She warned any other people who win competitions to be wary.
Fortunately for her and her husband, no suspicion was attached to them, but unfortunately this cannot be said for all who have drugs planted on them.
What can I do if I have been charged because the drugs were planted on me?
Having drugs planted on you does not automatically make you guilty of a criminal offence.
As already stated, for you to be found guilty the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were aware of the presence of drugs, or at least suspected it.
However, being arrested and put through criminal proceedings can take a heavy personal toll, and there is never any guarantee that you will be believed.
Being used as a drug mule has severe and potentially life-altering consequences.
As can be seen from the Stelios Macris case, it is entirely possible to become an unwitting victim of a ‘dog act’.
The law says that if you were unaware that the drugs were planted on you, or you suspected drugs may have been planted on you but after a thorough search could find nothing, you will not be held criminally liable.
This is significant, because even if you had a suspicion that drugs may have been planted on you – as did the elderly couple from Western Australia – and do not check, you may still be found guilty.
If you have been victim of drugs planted on you, or been used as a drug mule and are now facing legal charges, speak to an experienced drug lawyer immediately.
As outlined above, the penalties can be severe and can have a long-lasting impact on your life.
Your freedom could be at stake and it is simply not worth taking the risk.
A specialist drug lawyer who has experience at forcing the prosecution to prove their case and at building rock-solid defences will give you the best chance of a quick and happy outcome.