Colombian drug-traffickers unveil new weapon: the elderly

After hiding drugs in containers, religious artifacts and even dogs, Colombian drug-traffickers are now using the elderly to transport their illegal narcotics, warn Colombian police.

It's a gray menace creeping slowly toward US shores.

The alarm was raised after police busted a drug ring in the northern city of Medellin that sent an average of two old-age pensioners a week to the United States loaded with heroin.

Traffickers were betting that these drug-running grandfathers and grandmothers would pass through customs in Colombia and the United States easier than their younger counterparts, said authorities.

"What's different about this gang is that they used the elderly, between the ages of 62 and 67, so they wouldn't awake suspicions," said Col. Jaime Gutierrez of Colombia's judicial police.

Gutierrez said that each person, commonly known as a drug mule, would receive an average of $5,000 for every trip, more than double the annual per-capita income.

After Colombian authorities built up a profile of the typical drug mule, usually a peasant from Colombia's impoverished countryside, traffickers became increasingly inventive in their choice of mules.

Colombian authorities say that traffickers have been so successful in attracting a wide range of people from different professions and social classes that a profile no longer exists.

While the recruitment of the elderly was surprising, their destination was not: Police said most were headed for Florida, reports AP.


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