Taipei--Drug rings have aggressively recruited "unknown third parties" to act as "mules" to transport drugs for them in recent years, and two high school students have become their latest prey, aviation police said Tuesday.
The two teenagers, both studying in night schools, were caught Sunday trying to smuggle drugs out of Taiwan in their check-in luggage, a more open approach than the typical tactics used by drug mules of strapping drugs to their body or hiding them to avoid detection.
The two teenagers, one 16 years old with the surname Chen and the other 19 with the surname Hu, intended to take a China Airlines flight bound for Auckland, New Zealand at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Sunday night.
But aviation police spotted suspicious objects in their check-in luggage, and found 3,393 grams and 3,439 grams of amphetamines -- a category two narcotics -- in the suitcases.
The police then seized the more than 6.8 kilograms of amphetamines, estimated to be worth more than NT$60 million (US$1.98 million) on the market.
The duo said they were commissioned by a man nicknamed "little trumpet" to transport the packages and that they would receive a call after arriving in New Zealand to arrange for the delivery of the packages.
The case has now been turned over to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office.
Su Mao-chih (???), a captain in the Aviation Police Bureau, said police suspected the two students were not aware of the nature of the items they were commissioned to carry or of the seriousness of the matter given that they "openly" put the narcotics in their luggage.
Su said the drug rings probably wanted to take advantage of the Tomb Sweeping holiday long weekend April 1-4, when large numbers of passengers crowd the airport, to sneak out of drugs.
The bureau said it has become aware based on its experience of drug rings offering generous packages to lure "unknown third parties" -- usually the homeless and the jobless -- to act as drug mules.
Police said the two teenagers were offered air tickets, group tours in New Zealand and rewards of NT$80,000 and NT$200,000, respectively, for the mission.
For the duo, however, this "god-sent" gift" could actually be a highly precarious gift, police said, urging people not to promise to carry items for others.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel