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Cocaine: how “mules” are spotted in Guyana


REPORT – Over the past five years, customs seizures of cocaine have doubled in Guyana. Put in the suitcases or ingested, the doses of drugs are transported by individuals in need of money. TF1’s 20H conducted the investigation.

Hidden in suitcases, in clothes, in food or even in objects… Drugs can be transported in various forms. Solid or liquid, cocaine is sometimes swallowed by these “mules”, special drug carriers acting for money.

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These businesses are multiplying in Cayenne and have become a quasi-industry. On each link between Guyana and Orly airport in Paris, up to 30 mules would try to board. A dozen would do it. In 2021, more than 1.1 tons of cocaine was seized by Customs agents. A figure that has doubled compared to 2016. To fight against this traffic, new scanners are installed in the airport. More checks on roads and river borders are carried out.

Faced with a real influx of cases, the magistrates of the court based in Cayenne have updated their arsenal of repression, with immediate judgments. When repeat offenders are sentenced to prison, those who are caught with less than two kilos of drugs and who are unknown to justice get away with a suspended sentence.

2,000 tons of drugs at the gates of Guyana

In question, an extremely high poverty rate in this overseas territory. Per trip, the mules can earn between 5,000 and 6,000 euros, according to one of those who have attempted the crossing. Raissa, a former mule, believes that the practice “has become normalized”. And to carry on, “young people see their big brother leaving, and they want to do the same”.

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Despite the efforts of the State, the territorial proximity with drug-producing countries makes the mission much more complicated, as they increase the quantities put on the market. About 2,000 tons per year, according to the UN, or 25% more than in 2016. A mass that traffickers are trying to sell at all costs, especially in Europe.

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