Her letter tells the whole story. Up to you if you believe it or not.
When: January 8th, 2021
Where: Tochigi Women’s Prison, Tochigi Prefecture, Kanto region of Honshu, Japan
Perpetrator: Mook, alias
What: The independent online newspaper Prachatai ran a story recently about Thai women who are incarcerated for drug smuggling. The article gives some background about the issue along with providing a letter from a woman who’s currently serving time in the Tochigi Women’s Prison in Japan.
Here’s a summary of the article:
In the past, Thai women in rural areas were often deceived or forced to work overseas. Some parents sold their daughters to brokers as foreign wives, known in Thai as Tok Kieo (ตกเขียว, literally “falling green”, but meaning “virginal, pure”; an interesting subject in itself for future articles by True Crime Thailand).
The incidence of selling Thai women as Tok Kieo is still there but has decreased over the decades, however, Thai women are still used – sometimes to even smuggle drugs out of the country.
Currently, there are quite a few Thai women who have smuggled drugs across the country. Some do this voluntarily, taking the risk in exchange for money. Some do it after being deceived. Some do it because they’re forced. There aren’t any definitive figures on how many people have smuggled drugs out of the country or how many kilograms of drugs have been smuggled out.
Sometimes when they are arrested at overseas airports they return to Thailand as if nothing happened. Some are arrested and go to court abroad and go to prison for a long time.
Japan is a country where Thai women smuggle drugs. Since the Japanese government canceled tourist visas for Thai people, traveling to Japan is much easier. Therefore, smuggling to Japan has increased accordingly.
Unofficial figures, as of 2020, state that 65 Thai women are serving time in the Tochigi Women’s Prison in eastern Japan. Among the foreign inmates, Thais rank third for number of inmates after China and South America. It doesn’t seem like a lot of Thais, but compared to the share of the population of China and South America, it is a high number.
The following is an open letter from Mook, the pseudonym of a Thai woman who was convicted of smuggling marijuana into Japan:
Mook was friends with a lot of Nigerians on Facebook. She lived with one and dated him for a year. The first year was great. They dated and he took care of her well. Mook lived in another province at that time and the Nigerian lived in Bangkok. She traveled to Bangkok about once a month to see him.
During that time, he sent money to Mook every month. Sometimes 20,000 baht, sometimes 30,000 baht, sometimes 100,000 baht.
After a year of dating, he asked Mook to live together. Mook then moved to Bangkok to live together. The first year living together went well. They got along well and were happy.
Mook wanted to open an African restaurant and her Nigerian boyfriend invested in it. They did well, selling to Africans, who were their main customers, along with their Thai women partners. Every month they profited over 100,000 baht because of their unique restaurant.
After about 9 months, another African contacted Mook’s boyfriend and asked Mook to smuggle cannabis for him. Of course, at that time, Mook didn’t know about the plan. One day when Mook was cooking at the restaurant her boyfriend told her that he wanted her to go to Nong Khai and bring an herb down to Bangkok. She asked what kind of herb, and he said it’s used to cook African dishes.
Mook asked why can’t they send it by post. He said he could, but it’d take too long. If she went to go get it, it’d arrive faster.
Mook was an honest woman so she believed him. About 5 days after bringing the herb to Bangkok, a friend of Mook’s, another Thai woman, asked her if she knew it was marijuana. Mook was stunned and asked her boyfriend. He didn’t say anything at first, but then later admitted to it.
They fought about the issue and Mook wanted to break up. The Nigerian threatened Mook that if she told police, he’d kill Mook’s parents. Mook knew that he was serious and she knew the reputation of his friends.
After this, the boyfriend forced Mook to smuggle more drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, and more. The Nigerian boyfriend’s boss, who directed him, was unknown. The boyfriend was paid about 150,000 – 240,000 baht for the smuggling, but Mook only earned 500 baht per week for food. This went on for 3 years and Mook received nothing from the arrangement.
The restaurant later closed because Mook didn’t have time to attend to it. Her parents depended on the income she earned but now she was unable to provide for them.
When Mook was arrested in Japan, the Nigerian boyfriend took her credit card and maxed it out. Mook feared that he would kill her parents. She was constantly followed and stalked and could not escape from him.
Mook did eventually notify the police. But the police released him and did not press charges. He paid off the police. Sometimes he doesn’t have to pay at all because there’s a big police man who helps him.
Mook knew that once when she brought marijuana from Laos there was a large police force guarding it. She didn’t know if they were part of the gang, but there were government officials present.
When Mook thinks about these things, she feels very stupid.
She knows that some might not believe her story. She only wanted her parents and siblings to have a good life. Before getting involved with her boyfriend she was never involved with illegal things.
Mook was just an uneducated country girl. She only knew work, work, work.
That ends Mook’s letter. She is still in prison today. With good conduct, she may return to Thailand soon. Mook’s credit card is still maxed out, and when she returns to Thailand, she may face further prosecution for that debt.
This story is only one example of Thai people who have been deceived and manipulated into smuggling drugs.
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My take: This is a very interesting article. It brings up the phenomenon of Tok Kieo, or Thai women who are sold as foreign wives. And it brings up the issue of Thai women being manipulated into smuggling drugs out of Thailand, another issue that is not discussed much.
These are both issues that True Crime Thailand will spend time writing about as the days and months go on.
I don’t know if I personally believe everything from Mook’s letter. But when you’re locked up abroad, of course you’re going to present your best face for the world. Wouldn’t you?
Source: https://prachatai.com/journal/2021/01/91114; featured image from Bloomberg article about women in Japanese prisons https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-03-16/japan-s-prisons-are-a-haven-for-elderly-women
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