KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Malaysian authorities say African drug traffickers are recruiting women from the country's Borneo territories to use as drug "mules."
Police said they are watching activities of suspected West African drug syndicates in the states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo, a report in the New Straits Times said.
Continuous coverage of drug mules -- couriers -- and their plight in jails abroad has made it harder to recruit mules in the larger cities on mainland Malaysia.
"This has forced these syndicates to look for drug mules in the interior areas of east Malaysia," said Federal Narcotics Director Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim.
"Investigations have also revealed that the heightened security checks at international airports have forced drug trafficking syndicates to bring in syabu or ice by land."
Syabu, sometimes called ice, is a highly addictive and dangerous crystal methamphetamine that is injected, snorted or smoked and affects central nervous system. Users have wide mood swings and often suffer depression when the euphoria wears off.
On June 30, two women from Sarawak were detained at the Bukit Kayu Hitam road checkpoint on the Malay-Thai border as they attempted to enter Malaysia. Authorities said they found nearly 25 pounds of syabu hidden in their baggage, the New Straits report said.
The women reportedly confessed that they had been asked by an African friend to carry the baggage into Malaysia but didn't know drugs were inside.
Syabu has become the No. 1one drug of choice and profitability, surpassing heroin, Noor said.
From January-June, police seized 380 pounds of syabu worth around $9.6 million. A kilogram, around 2.2 pounds, of syabu costs $60,000-$80,000 depending on availability.
"Last year, a total of 167,001 people including traffickers, addicts and party-goers tested positive for drug abuse. Of that figure, 85,170 took synthetic drugs while the rest took heroin and cannabis," he said.
Also this week, a care nurse from Melbourne became the second Australian facing Malaysia's mandatory death penalty after being detained on suspicion of trafficking methamphetamine.
The woman was arrested July 17 along with a Nigerian man after a police operation in Kuala Lumpur. They allegedly had around 2.2 pounds of the drug under the seat of the car.
The suspect's lawyer says he client maintains her innocence.