Ten people have been arrested at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for allegedly attempting to board flights for Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia with large quantities of amphetamines strapped to their bodies.
A total of 25.5kg of narcotics was seized, which officials said had an estimated street value of about NT$300 million (US$9.8 million).
The 10, all 20 to 25 years old, were allegedly “mules” working for a major drug ring, and had been promised NT$250,000 each to transport the drugs, Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office chief prosecutor Ho Ta-jen (何達仁) said.
The haul is the largest amount of illegal drugs destined for foreign markets seized in recent years, Ho said.
Eight of the suspects were scheduled to fly on Sunday to Australia and then, after a brief stopover, head to New Zealand, while the other two were supposed to fly to Jakarta on Monday, Ho said.
Aviation Police Bureau officials conducted body searches of the eight after receiving a tip from other police units and discovered drugs in pouches taped to their bodies and inside their shoes.
Amphetamines were allegedly found on the pair headed to Jakarta as well.
Chou Hsin-chieh (周杏潔) has been identified as a key suspect as she allegedly headed the group of five women and three men planning to fly to Australia, Ho said.
During questioning, Chou allegedly told police that she needed money, so she agreed to carry drugs, and recruited several friends, who like her work as hairdressers or beauticians, and mostly came from Taoyuan or New Taipei City.
Taoyuan prosecutors plan to charge the suspects with violations of the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), which carry prison terms ranging from seven years to life.
People should not to get involved in smuggling drugs because trafficking in narcotics is a serious crime that carries serious penalties, Ho said.
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