A foreign woman was detained at Beijing Capital International Airport after customs authorities collared her with 1,113 grams of heroin in capsules inside her body, Beijing Customs said Sunday.
The suspect tried enter the country on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, which arrived at 6:40 am on July 7. Customs officers said they became suspicious because she looked "nervous and dressed messy," according to the press release from Beijing Customs.
"The passenger claimed she was on a business trip, but was traveling with very light luggage and only had several dozens of dollars," said a customs inspector who was at the scene, the Beijing Customs said.
The suspect later claimed she was five month's pregnant, and refused to undergo any further inspection.
"You can't do X-ray checks on me because of my pregnancy," the woman shouted, becoming emotional, said the press release.
The woman then refused to take a pregnancy test, and contraceptive pills were also found in her luggage.
At 11:20 am, her pregnancy test appeared to be negative and one hour later, she admitted having swallowed capsules containing drugs. Later she expelled 91 sealed capsules containing 1,113 grams of heroin.
A customs media officer, surnamed Feng, refused to say what country the suspect comes from as it's "inconvenient, as there's an international issue involved in the case."
Feng revealed the woman is in detention, and her case will be transferred to the court for judgment under Chinese law. This is the first time a female suspect has been caught smuggling drugs inside her body on an international flight to China so far this year, said Feng.
"There aren't many similar drug smuggling cases, several dozens according to our rough estimates so far. The crackdown on drugs has been always a key issue in our work," said Feng.
In February 2010, a foreign man and woman on a flight from Tanzania were arrested at the airport after they were found to have ingested capsules containing 2 kilograms of heroin. The man was allegedly told he could make $5,000 a time for smuggling the drugs, reported Beijing TV news on February 4, 2010. It is not known if the couple have been sentenced yet.
A 37-year-old man, surnamed Yang, died in a hotel in the Dashilan area, Xicheng district, after swallowing 100 capsules containing drugs. He died after one broke open in his stomach, the Beijing Morning Post reported in 2007. Yang was reportedly paid 5,000 yuan ($784) for each smuggling trip he made from Yunnan Province.
"Drug addicts might take less than 1 gram of heroin at one time, but the capsules usually weigh more than 500 grams in mules' bodies, so they face fatal consequences besides the danger of being caught," said Xu Zhigang, an officer from the anti-drug squad at Mentougou district public security bureau.
Penalties for anyone caught trafficking drugs in China can be harsh.
Wang Zhengping, a lawyer from Jintai Law Firm, said the sentence for the suspect would be no different than if a Chinese national had committed the same crime.
"Smuggling more than 50 grams of heroin or other drugs could be punishable by death, and those who smuggle from abroad into the country will always face a harsher sentence," said Wang.
British national Akmal Shaikh, 53, was executed in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in December 2009 after China's Supreme Court rejected a bid for clemency. He was arrested in September 2007 in Urumqi for smuggling 4,030 grams of heroin on an international flight to the city, reported the Xinhua News Agency on December 29, 2009.
A 35-year-old Filipino man was executed by lethal injection last December after being convicted of drug trafficking in China. He was arrested in 2008 at Guilin International Airport, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, trying to smuggle 1,500 grams of heroin from Malaysia, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer on December 9, 2011.