Drug mules were barely out of the UK news in 2013. First the “Peru two”, Melissa Reid from Scotland and Michaela Connolly from Ireland, were arrested attempting to leave Lima with just under 12kgs of cocaine. They claim they were coerced into carrying drugs by a gang they fell in with while on holiday in Ibiza.

Then, in August 2013 Lindsay Sandiford’s appeal against the death sentence was rejected. She was arrested in Bali in May 2013 with just under 5kgs of cocaine. She also claimed that she was forced to carry drugs due to coercion and threats of violence against her family. She is currently on death row and will have one year in which to apply for clemency.

Neither Lindsay Sandiford, nor Melissa Reid and Michaela Connolly are “typical” alleged drug mules (if there is such a thing) - the majority of those arrested with drugs at national borders are men, whose arrest seldom attracts national attention. Everyone who researches drug trafficking finds accounts of coercion and threats yet this is the exception rather than the norm. In fact most become involved voluntarily, motivated by poverty and financial difficulties.

Thumbnail: ISN Flickr

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