CHENNAI: Customs and drug enforcement agencies may have ostensibly intensified their screening at airports, but no less than 68 Indian citizens are languishing in jails across Malaysia after having been arrested and charged with drug trafficking there.
Information obtained from the High Commission of India in Kuala Lumpur through an RTI petition shockingly revealed that 44 of these drug mules were arrested between January and September alone. While 28 of them have been convicted with jail time stretching until 2025, the remaining are in judicial remand, awaiting their day in court.
All of them have been charged under various sections of the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952, with trafficking as the primary charge.
In addition, a few of them have been charged for intent to sell and excessive use. The records sent to the Ministry of External Affairs reveal that quite a number of the arrested mules are under 30, with a 19-year-old youth also behind bars.
The swift pile-up of drug trafficking arrests could be a result of two things — the Malaysian narcotics department’s crackdown on entry of drugs and a general increase in the number of couriers carrying substances from India.
A majority of those arrested are believed to have done their drug run through the Chennai airport.
Activist Jamal S, who sought the information, strongly believes that such a large number of drug mules can’t operate without some inside assistance. “There are people who recruit young men and women who have financial trouble in areas like Triplicane and Mannady. They give a little money and urge them to do the drug running. Their families believe that they are going for some ‘work’ there and come to know the truth only when they are arrested,” he said, adding “I believe this is happening in collusion with customs officers at Chennai Airport who were on duty at that time and allowed them to pass.”