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Cape Verdean university students recruited by international drug traffickers 18 Setembro 2015

The Cape Verdean Judiciary Police’s Anti-Trafficking Cell, which operates at Nelson Mandela International Airport in Praia, is aware of new ways in which drug trafficking syndicates are recruiting “mules” to traffic controlled substances from Brazil to Cape Verde and other countries in Africa and Europe. The traffickers’ preference – particularly the Nigerian mafia - seems to be university students, particularly those from Praia, with vulnerable economic and financial situations and who agree to go to the South American country to pick up drugs in exchange for payments of up to US$ 3,000. The Judiciary Police, which has registered 16 such cases since January of this year, has also called on parents to be attentive to warning signs.

Cape Verdean university students recruited by international drug traffickers

A Judiciary Police source informed A Semana Online that university students, especially those from Praia, are being recruited by criminal organizations and traveling to Brazil. There, they are handed the drugs (cocaine), which they then transport to Cape Verde, which is considered “a strategic point for transporting and storing drugs.” The cocaine is also transported to other African countries such as Guinea Bissau, Morocco, South Africa and The Gambia, in addition to Europe.

“Most of them are arrested in Brazil’s international airports, where surveillance is tighter. In the past months – in other words, between January and September – the Anti-Trafficking Cell has intercepted some 16 people, most of them Cape Verdean citizens, and has seized eleven kilograms of pure cocaine,” according to our source, stressing that “there are other foreigners in Cape Verde who have also served as mules.”

What has Cape Verdean authorities most concerned, however, according to the source, is the emergence of new ways of recruiting these young people. If, at first, the “Cape Verdean mules went to Brazil and brought back the drugs in their luggage, more recently they’ve been transporting it in their stomachs, putting their very lives at risk.”

An example of this took place a short time ago, when the Anti-Trafficking Cell arrested a 23-year-old university student at Nelson Mandela International Airport in Praia. The young woman had arrived on a TACV Cabo Verde Airlines flight from Brazil and was carrying more than 900 grams of cocaine in her stomach. The Judiciary Police’s concern, according to our source, is to raise Cape Verdean society’s awareness regarding this phenomenon, which is well-known in other countries, many of which are Cape Verde’s partners in the fight against transnational drug trafficking.

“We would especially call on parents and guardians who currently have children or relatives studying at Brazilian universities to keep their watch out for drug traffickers, especially the Nigerian mafia, who are seducing poorer students into transporting drugs to Cape Verde. In exchange, they offer airline tickets and monetary compensation, if they manage to get past airport authorities.”

The Judiciary Police also advises parents to “give their children recommendations about certain friendships, and not to carry or share luggage for or with strangers when traveling. They should also instill good values in them,” concludes the source.

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