Drug syndicate disguises drug mules as monks: Fake monks arrested at airports in Taiwan and Japan

A transnational drug trafficking group disguised drug smugglers as monks in an attempt to thwart airport security, but two of the fake monks have been arrested at airports in Taiwan and Japan.

According to an investigation by the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office, a 25-year-old Taiwanese man named Liu Jingting was recruited by a drug syndicate to smuggle ketamine from Cambodia to Taiwan in September 2023. Liu Jingting was accompanied by two members of the group, Xu and Gao, who acted as “supervisors.” The suspects picked up a quantity of drugs at a hotel in Phnom Penh, taped the drugs in 50 small packets to Liu’s body. Liu, Xu, and Gao shaved their heads and dressed in monk’s cassocks before boarding a flight back to Taiwan.

Investigators believe the suspects used the monk disguise in order to evade the scrutiny of customs officers. However, customs officers at Taoyuan International Airport found the three men suspicious and instigated a search. The search revealed 50 packets of Ketamine with a total of 9.9 kilograms strapped to Liu Jingting’s body. Xu and Gao did not carry drugs and were released after questioning.

According to the investigation, another man, a 21-year-old college student named Liu Chenghan was also aboard the same flight in order to monitor, observe, and learn how to transport drugs. The day after Liu Jingting was arrested, Liu Chenghan fled back to Cambodia. Liu Chenghan was arrested at Narita International Airport on January 25. Liu Chenghan was also disguised as a monk and had 6 kilograms of amphetamines taped to his body.

Investigators in Taiwan and Japan are cooperating in sharing intelligence in the investigation.

composite of pictures showing drug smuggling suspect disguised as monk and evidence
Pictures released by Japanese investigators.
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