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Drug Mules

A disturbing piece at Al Jazeera about the proliferation of drug mules in the Philippines as the trend is for poor women to be drawn into working as drug mules (sometimes without even knowing what they’re carrying), and ending up on death row in China.

And more are getting caught. Over 690 Filipinos are currently sitting in jails around the world on drug offences, 227 in China alone. Of these, data shows there are 85 currently facing death row from drug-related crimes, and more and more of them are women.

Authorities say international drug syndicates have been specifically targeting Filipino women to traffic drugs, with dramatic increases in the numbers of convicted female drug mules in the last few years.

The women are paid between $500 and $5,000 to swallow tubes containing the drugs, carry them hidden in their luggage or even dissolved and soaked into paper or books.

Labour rights groups say these women are victims of poverty. One in four Filipinos lives on less than $1 a day and one-tenth of the population work abroad to send money home to support their families.

So a poor Filipino woman, desperate to provide for her family, agrees to carrying something and is caught. She gets executed.

How does her death help the world?

It certainly doesn’t affect the traffickers. And there are always more Filipino women for them to target.

The lengthy video investigative report is really a very powerful indictment of the drug war (although unfortunately the reporter’s interview with the Vice President at the end of the piece is very badly done).

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24 comments to Drug Mules

  • This is the second article I’ve read today about women being especially victimized by the drug war. The other is where I found this site from (you’re on her blogroll):

    http://sashasaid.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/the-war-on-drugs-is-a-war-on-sexual-assault-survivors/#comment-268

    Basically, being poor and desperate is a crime. Using drugs and not hurting anyone is a crime. But ruining lives or locking people up for crimes against no one? That you can get legally paid for, even rich off of if you play your cards right. We live in a seriously messed up world.

  • GoodNews

    This just in: Chris Christie lifts suspension of NJ medical marijuana program

    http://www.wfmz.com/health/28598386/detail.html

    • dt

      Great, but New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is the most restrictive in the country. Apparently there will be “limits on the drug’s potency and restrictions on available strains.” Link. That’s idiotic because less potency just means that patients will have to smoke more. Also, different strains can have increased medical benefits. Those requirements are just a concession to the prohibitionist meme that “today’s pot is more addictive,” which is really just an excuse for baby boomers to not feel like hypocrites when they punish their kids for marijuana.

      • Duncan20903

        .
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        It wouldn’t have been just a flesh wound had he managed to keep the NJ law suspended or somehow stricken from the New Jersey criminal code. The Know Nothings have created a stripe of hysterical rhetoric where they just fib and say all the other States are sorry and have been reconsidering allowing medicinal cannabis patient protection laws. It’s the same strategy they use when discussing Holland.

        Merrywanna is bad, mmm-kay? Don’tcha know he Dutch are really sorry that they allowed a retail distribution chain. Do you know how many bicycles have been stolen this year in Amsterdam?

        It’s amusing when they talk about California. The one and only way to change the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) is another citizen generated ballot initiative. Oh well, I guess that’s why I call them the ignorati.

        Even the foaming at the mouth Know Nothing prohibitionists in the Montana legislature decided that total repeal wasn’t a viable option. In reality their reform is de facto repeal but they’re still on the list. But seriously, the State still acknowledges that there is effective medicinal utility and that cannabis is a valid medicine.

        The CUA is almost certainly going to be alive long, long after the pharma’s do their thing with cannabis and there’s only a fringe element using whole plant cannabinoid medicine. It cost $1.5 million to get Prop 19 on the California 2010 ballot.

  • vickyvampire

    Drug Mules Horrible wretched story good for Sasha Feminist reporting on it,but sorry to say,some Feminists ignore these story’s all to often THE Horrible way women are treated like garbage in other countries is not covered enough maybe for fear for looking Anti-muslim or something I don’t know. just IMHO.

    Governor Chris Christie finally decide to free the weed little a little with strings plenty strings attached of course you piece of shit sorry I have no compassion,what some ,I would be careful.I’m glad it happened but damn it these Republicans are Fucking stubborn about this the public polls are 70 percent in favor of It Wake up. Maybe he saw Dollar signs for some funds for state?

    Now lets see will that Witch Governor from Arizona make a move to free the weed Huh what do you folks think? Come on somebody give that woman sweetpills Please..FORGODSAKE.HAHA!!!

  • This is not my America

    Humm, the worlds going to hell in a hand basket.

    …And the government keeps making more laws…day in and day out…restricting what the people can do, expanding what government can do to you and for them selves.

    Yes..in a hand basket…if they arent made illegal.

    • Duncan20903

      I think the US Constitution should be amended to require that all laws passed by Congress have an sunset clause that’s limited to a maximum term of 5 years. Also required a defined minimum oral debate and argument for why the law’s sunset should be extended and a formal vote. It would also enable horrid laws be stricken quietly. E.g. the only way we were going to get oral sex decriminalized was through the Judicial branch is because there are so many politicians that would vote for repeal. Oh well, I guess that it isn’t a bad thing to have the right to enjoy oral sex protected by the US Constitution.

  • Cliff

    “…good for Sasha Feminist reporting on it,but sorry to say,some Feminists ignore these story’s all to often THE Horrible way women are treated like garbage in other countries is not covered enough maybe for fear for looking Anti-muslim or something I don’t know.”

    Yawn, wake me up when the feminists start extending “My body, my choice111!!one-eleventy” to the members of the human race who happen to be born with testicles rather than ovaries. BTW, where are the feminists standing up for their sisters in the Middle East, who are being subjected to the most brutal of treatment, not being allowed to drive or do things in public without a male relative?

    For the feminists, abortion is OK and a rational choice, which must be protected, even at the expense of a dead fetus / baby. IMHO, feminists are mad at men for being able to impregnate women, so this is their way of getting back at the paternalistic society which they claim they suffer under in the US. Some of them even say that any sex between men and women constitute rape.

    However, the use of mind altering substances is ‘teh ebil’ and must be stopped at all costs, even at the expense of women who are just trying to survive in this globalist paradise. At least we all can get cheap trinkets and baubles at rock bottom prices.;)

    Feminism has its roots in the Temperance Movement which is prohibitionist to the core and the beginning of all problems related to the present war on some drugs. It comes as no surprise to me that poor women of the wrong color or religion are on the sh*tty end of the prohibitionist stick which their ‘sisters’ helped to create. Feminists are kind of like the black racial identity poverty pimps who were / are the Drug War’s biggest cheerleaders at the expense of their incarcerated brothers and sisters.

    /I love women, but strident man-hating feminists can take a flying leap to any country where women are treated like property or worse and see how good it really is here in the mean ol’ US.

  • darkcycle

    Cliff, were you deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time when you were a baby?

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      I’m surprised at you DC. Isn’t it obvious that he fell off of a cliff and landed on his head?

  • palemalemarcher

    But how can one willingly abstain from reproductive options when the hospital denounces moms to the man?

  • Cliff

    dc, What part of my rant did you find unacceptable? I knew I would incur someone’s wrath for my opinions, but couldn’t you find a better way to articulate your dis-pleasure, than to question my mental state? If I made an error in my observations please feel free to correct me.

    Want an example of the roots of true feminism? Margaret Sanger is the mother of present day feminism which is steeped in birth control as population control and convienence. She was an athiest, socialist, and an advocate of eugenics.

    I’m not against abortion or for it (it’s sad either way), I’m just pointing out that a proceedure which takes a human life / proto-life, however you view that is protected by law. But the feminists pretty much stop there, they don’t defend anyone’s rights to their own bodies when it comes to drug use. Just like you don’t see American feminists protesting Saudi Arabian or Afghani treatment of women.

    From Wikipeadea;

    American first-wave feminism involved a wide range of women, some belonging to conservative Christian groups such as Frances Willard and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union…

    I have never seen feminists address the war on drugs as a matter of self ownership, like they do about abortion rights, as a matter of fact, I have yet to see a rally of NOW protesting the treatment of low level drug offenders, of either sexes, or the Drug Mules mentioned in Pete’s story and frankly it’s tiring.

    • darkcycle

      The women’s sufferage movement started in 1821(if you can say it started at all, it was an issue for the founding fathers: Abigail Adams famously wrote to her husband John to “remember the ladies”. John replied snarkily “the declaration says all MEN are created equal, John spent that night on the couch), with the foundation by Emma Hart Willard of the Troy Female Seminary in New York–the first endowed school for girls. In 1836 Sarah Grimké began her speaking career as an abolitionist and a women’s rights advocate. Later, Mary Lyon founds Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, eventually the first four-year college exclusively for women in the United States. Mt. Holyoke was followed by Vassar in 1861, and Wellesley and Smith Colleges, both in 1875. In 1873, the School Sisters of Notre Dame found a school in Baltimore, Maryland, which would eventually become the nation’s first college for Catholic women. The women’s sufferage movement came out of these schools.
      The very firt temperance movement was Austrailia in the late 1830’s, though that was not really a temperance movement, they were hyping moderation, not tee-totaling. The very first temperance pledge, was Ireland, 1838. Wiki says:
      “In Ireland, a Catholic priest Theobald Mathew persuaded thousands of people to sign the pledge, therefore establishing the Teetotal Abstinence Society in 1838.[1]

      Many years later, in 1898 James Cullen founded the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in response of the fading influence of the original temperance pledge.
      In 1829 the Presbyterian minister Rev. John Edgar initiated a temperance movement, [2] pouring his stock of whiskey out his window.[3] Also many Orange lodges are “temperance lodges” and abstain from drinking. These particular lodges are more common in rural areas where the religious ethos of the organisation is more to the fore.” Theobold, James, John….aren’t those MENS names? The “Orange Lodges”…You suppose they let WOMEN into those?
      So, just a quick perusal of the literature should lead you tto the following conclusions: The temperance movement was started by MEN in Churches and the “Orange Lodges”. These movements started in Austrailia and England, about 1838. The Women’s lib movement started with the establishment of colleges for women in the United States in 1821.
      That straighten it out for you, Cliffy?

      • darkcycle

        And Margaret Sanger, I’d urge you to educate yourself on her life and body of work before you issue any blanket condemnations. And remember, in the 1930’s eugenics had completely different meaning than it does now. The Nazi’s took the idea and turned it on it’s head. The original idea of eugenics was that deficiencies and defects could be avoided by sensible decisions made by parents before having children. These people were not interested in eugenics as social engineering at all. That was a perversion and an invention. They (the German eugenicists) didn’t even understand the idea of heritability. They firmly believed that you could prevent the birth of defective children by eliminating all the ones that were already born!
        Margaret Sanger repeatedly and vehemently denounced the Nazi’s, too.
        Eugenics became a loaded term as of the mid-twentieth, and has an entirely different connotation now than it did in Sanger’s day. It’s easy to just toss that out there, it sounds pretty bad, but context is everything, old man.
        And as for socialist and athiest, that’s bad…how? I’m a socialist and proud of it.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .
        Of all the significant social changes that have come about women’s suffrage is the only one to come about without lots of people going out and breaking the law that they didn’t like. Of course the women have a secret super power. It only takes a maximum of 535 working in concert to change just about any law they want changed.

        OK, OK, Barney Frank has immunity, make that 534.

  • Paul

    I spoke for some time with the Philippine consul general stationed in Saigon. They have a small office in one of the towers here (I’ve lived in Vietnam for years) and they have photos of news stories about their countrymen imprisoned in Vietnam hung on the walls.

    He seemed to sincerely believe that a lot of their citizens had been unjustly imprisoned and that his government was very concerned and unhappy about it. There wasn’t much they could do, though.

    So they think all this is true, and not just some story people make up to get out of trouble.

    • kaptinemo

      One can argue that the reason for the (historically recent) abandonment of traditionally tolerated and socially-integrated drug usage in Asian nations (particularly countries like Nepal and Thailand) was the US’s insistence on demanding that all countries that receive US aid adhere to US social policies…like drug prohibition.

      Hardly original, I know, but this runs deeper than any surface level, culturally puritanical American sado-moralism. This goes to the heart of the destabilization methodologies that are used by US foreign policy wonks with regards to maintaining weaker but strategically important nations in a stew of social unrest, the better to impose ‘solutions’ from outside without appearing to do so.

      Hence the use of DEA Agents as CIA cat’s-paws in these foreign countries; the DEA gives cover to the CIA’s dope-dealing. Both hands stir the social unrest pot, but the CIA’s hand is covered by one of the DEA’s gloves.

  • Francis

    So I’m currently studying for the bar exam. (You can feel sorry for me.) One of the tested subjects is criminal procedure, and one of the primary areas tested within criminal procedure is “search and seizure” law (aka, what’s left of the 4th Amendment.) So naturally a huge chunk of the practice questions involve one of the following: “marijuana,” (I guess “cannabis” would be expecting too much?), heroin, cocaine, or simply “drugs.” It’s a pretty depressing reminder of the extent to which the war on drugs has eclipsed the legitimate functions of the police (you know, actually PROTECTING citizens and their property). Also, aren’t there something like a hundred schedule I drugs? How about mixing it up, guys?

  • thelbert

    you know, of course, that all lawyers are buried 12 feet deep, because deep down they are not bad people.

  • “I have never seen feminists address the war on drugs as a matter of self ownership, like they do about abortion rights, as a matter of fact, I have yet to see a rally of NOW protesting the treatment of low level drug offenders, of either sexes, or the Drug Mules mentioned in Pete’s story and frankly it’s tiring.”

    Agreed, but it’s a part of a larger disturbing landscape of ‘paced agenda’ politics, belying dynamics of something more controlled and not spontaneous, for instance those rallying about the ‘Palestinians’ but none else who lost their homes during say the 1940s.

  • “I have never seen feminists address the war on drugs as a matter of self ownership, like they do about abortion rights, as a matter of fact, I have yet to see a rally of NOW protesting the treatment of low level drug offenders, of either sexes, or the Drug Mules mentioned in Pete’s story and frankly it’s tiring.”

    Agreed, but it’s a part of a larger disturbing landscape of ‘paced agenda’ politics, belying dynamics of something more controlled and not spontaneous, for instance those rallying about the ‘Palestinians’ but not for any of the many others who lost their homes during say the 1940s.

  • Cliff

    Thank you Douglas for getting my point.