Drug trade participation by female smugglers has “increased exponentially” in the past 20 to 30 years, says research by El Paso-based anthropology professor Howard Campbell quoted by the Houston Chronicle. The newspaper cites a growing wave of “mulas,” female smugglers who bring unique characteristics and techniques to the border drug trade. Notably, they can hide drug shipments between breasts, stuffed in brassieres, wigs and in other distinctively feminine clothing, in faked pregnancies or even surgically implanted in the buttocks.
Unusual recent busts of groups of female “body carriers” suggest narco recruiters may be targeting more affluent women who can use nice clothes and new cars as “camouflage” to blend with border shoppers, immigration officials said. Just this week, one 17-year-old was caught at the border with 28 pounds of cocaine in a secret compartment in her vehicle. Three sisters, ages 23, 27 and 31, were arrested with their mother last year when a border drug dog sniffed the family's Mercedes. The women had 19 pounds of cocaine in their girdles.