27 Jul 2015

Love notes from international drug cartels

8:33 pm on 27 July 2015

An international human rights lawyer says people seeking romance on the internet are increasingly becoming targets for international drug cartels.

A woman walks with a suitcase through an airport.

Photo: 123RF

Craig Tuck said criminal gangs were using dating apps and sites to single out an increasing number of ordinary people to act as drug mules.

Antony de Malmanche (left) and lawyer Craig Tuck in Bali in December 2014.

Antony de Malmanche (left) and lawyer Craig Tuck in Bali in December 2014. Photo: Supplied

Earlier this year, New Zealander Tony de Malmanche was sentenced to 15 years in jail in Bali.

His defence said the 53-year-old had been tricked online by someone he fell in love with.

Mr Tuck said lawyers across the world were beginning to work together to understand how cartels used the apps as part of their recruitment model.

He said with the growing use of social media, criminal gangs were using the networks almost as a standard practice for finding new transporters.

He said cartels then willingly sacrificed, for profit, drug couriers in countries where execution was a potential sentence for those caught transporting drugs.

Last week week, a US veteran who was the victim of an online scam was cleared of drugs charges following the discovery of 6.2 kilograms of methamphetamine in his suitcase.