View Full Version : Smugglers turn to affluent women as drug ‘mulas’

07-09-2009, 12:05 PM
Three striking sisters, women in their 20s from the Mexican metropolis of Monterrey, were riding in the back of a late-model minivan with friends toward the shopping malls of Houston, when a Laredo customs agent noticed something out of place.

The driver of the white 2005 Chrysler Voyager with Nuevo Leon plates, a 42-year-old hairdresser, seemed a bit too nervous for a northbound shopper at the No. 2 International bridge. And inspectors noticed that the women appeared overly voluptuous, particularly in the bust, thighs and bottom.

All five were ordered out and patted down, where — under layers of fashionable clothing — each wore five to seven pounds of cocaine bricks with a total street value of nearly $1 million. The sister smugglers and their friends recently were sentenced to serve up to 74 months in federal prison here.

All were first-time offenders but part of a growing wave of “mulas,” female smugglers who bring unique characteristics and techniques to the border drug trade. Notably, they can hide drug shipments between breasts, stuffed in brassieres, wigs and in other distinctively feminine clothing, in faked pregnancies or even surgically implanted in the buttocks, according to government agents and a 2008 study of women smugglers by an El Paso professor.

Women have advantage
Unusual recent busts of groups of female “body carriers” suggest narco recruiters may be targeting more affluent women who can use nice clothes and new cars as “camouflage” to blend with border shoppers, immigration officials said.

At the time of their 2008 arrest, the cocaine the five women wore constituted the year’s largest seizure of bodily-concealed drugs smuggled at the busy Laredo border.