- Stringent checks at Hong Kong's airport, coupled with intelligence-gathering, have seen a number of traffickers nabbed.
- Drug lords choose African airports because of the ease to compromise officials and lack of screening equipment.
Someone approaches you with an overseas job proposal with a pay package you can’t refuse.
You fall for it, finally seeing a way out of the poverty that has been plaguing your family for years.
Then you process your passport, board a plane, but rather than travel to prosperity the journey to ruin begins.
This happened to Faith Omollo and at least 40 other Kenyans. Faith’s trip to Lagos then Malaysia to work in a textile shop promised handsome returns.
What more could a struggling mother of four ask for? She got “the job” the job through a Facebook chat with a woman now identified as one of the most notorious recruiters of drug mules in Kenya.
She stayed in Lagos for some days, and as she was leaving for Malaysia, her host gave her some bags to hand to someone in the country.
She had no clue that cocaine was hidden in the bags until she was flagged at an airport in Malaysia.
Panicking, she reached out to the recruiter only to learn that she had closed Facebook and other accounts. “I have been accused for what I have never done. I don’t know those drugs. I have never seen them in my life,” she wrote.
Faith is being tried in Malaysia for drug trafficking and if she is convicted she faces the death penalty.
“Please use my story worldwide to help (save) people’s lives,” says part of her letter.
The Saturday Nation has seen at least three similar letters, most of them incarcerated in Hong Kong prisons.
One of the letters is from a woman who requested that her identity be hidden. She will know her fate on February 3 when a Hong Kong court rules on whether her defence of being forced to carry drugs was enough to set her free.
She was a single mother struggling to make ends meet when “a lady friend asked me if I can work in another country where the pay would change my life,” she says in her letter.
She did not hesitate because by then she had been forced to do “all kinds of jobs to put food on the table and to give my children basic education”.
Her final destination was Macau, a city on China’s southern coast. But she had to pass through Addis Ababa. In Addis she was to meet a person she didn’t know.
It turned out to be a Nigerian. He took her to his home, raped her, forced her to swallow capsules and when she couldn’t ingest all of them, forced the rest into her private parts.
He later put her aboard a bus to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, she claims. “He instructed me not to say a word to anyone or else my family would die,” she writes.
She was arrested at a Hong Kong airport. “I am suffering in this prison, having left my children alone at home,” writes the mother of two.