Kenyan Drug Mule’s Case in the Philippines Closed
The case of the alleged Kenyan drug mule has been closed, but a follow-up will be done to identify who Asha Atieno Ogutu was going to call when she arrived in Cebu.
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Central Visayas Special Investigator Arnel Pura said the office has already turned over to the Computer Crimes Division of the head office the four foreign-carrier Subscriber Identification Modules or SIM packs taken from the Kenyan after she was arrested.
“Maybe they can get useful information from the cards,” Pura said, citing a process called “digital autopsy.”
NBI-Central Visayas Director Edward Villarta earlier said the drugs Ogutu sneaked into the Mactan-Cebu International Airport last August 29 were not for the local market.
Pura said the follow-up aims to generate information “that may be of use by other agencies who are also dealing with the transnational crime of drug smuggling.”
Pura led the NBI agents who arrested Ogutu at the MCIAA while she was trying to clear customs. Taken from a false bottom of her luggage were two packs containing a total of three kilos of shabu.
The arrest and indictment of Ogutu came seven months after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) central office released a report of Filipinos detained and indicted abroad for the same offense Ogutu is charged here.
More than 500 Filipino, mostly women, are in foreign jails on drug-related cases and 227 of the number are in China, says the DFA report.
According to the report, these Filipinos were hired by smuggling syndicates to act as mules, paying them between $500 and $5,000 to swallow tubes containing drugs, carry them in their luggage or dissolved and soaked into paper or books.
“So-called drug mules are either victims of syndicates or victims of poverty and hopelessness. Kapit sa patalim na ang ating mga kababayan,” said Migrante International secretary-general Gina Esguerra when the DFA came out with the figures.
Based on Migrante’s count, of the 227 Filipinos indicted in China, 195 were the result of arrests made between Feb. 2010 and 2011 alone.
Migrante cites poverty as the reason why Filipinos agree to do the job.
Pura, in an interview Tuesday, believes the same thing applies to the arrested Kenyan woman.
Pura said the NBI communicated with the Kenyan Consular Office in Manila prior to the inquest that resulted in Ogutu getting charged in court. It anticipated that the office would send lawyers. It did not.
“Siguro sa dami na ng problema nila dun, andito pa ito (Maybe it’s because they have so many problems there),” he said.
Ogutu was charged before the City Prosecutor of Lapu-Lapu City on August 30 and charged with a non-bailable complaint for transporting drug into Philippine soil.
The violation is defined and penalized under Section 5 of Republic Act 9165. If convicted she may be sentenced to “life imprisonment or death” and a fine between P500,000 to P10 million.
The Philippines no longer imposes death, but China does. It carried out that sentence against four Filipino “drug mules” a month after the DFA issued its report.
Pura said they turned Ogutu over to the Lapu-Lapu City Jail last Monday, where she supposedly fainted.
In an earlier interview, Ogutu denied purposely transporting drugs into the country and said the bag she was using was only given to her by a certain Joshua, the associate of the person who asked her to come to Cebu.
She identified the person as a certain Ray. She works for Ray by going to different places, like Benin in West Africa, and selling Kenyan textiles.
She said Ray told her to vacation in Cebu after selling off her supply.
She said Ray paid for her tickets and gave her the number of supposedly another Kenyan who would be waiting for her here.