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Foreign drug mules' hearing postponed

NINE foreigners charged with attempting to smuggle more than seven kilograms of heroin in their stomachs into Shanghai have had their hearing postponed.

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court canceled today's scheduled hearing without explanation and has not set another date.

The judge in charge of the case said Shanghai has turned from a transit station for smugglers to a destination.

Pakistani merchant Zahid Hussain Shah, 34, was expected to be charged as the principal of the gang. Four other Pakistanis and four Filipinos were also involved.

Prosecutors allege that Zahid ordered his eight gang members to swallow drugs wrapped in tin foil tubes in Thailand on September 3. The suspects then took a China Eastern Airlines flight from Bangkok to Shanghai.

Shanghai Customs officers caught one of the suspects, Ruel Villar, a 30-year-old Philippine,
at the Pudong International Airport when he acted suspiciously. They later recovered 75 tubes containing 777 grams of heroin, according to the indictment.

Police arrested the other eight gang members in the Dongshi Hotel the next morning following a confession of Ruel.

Police found all the gang members, except Zahid, had carried drugs in the body. The seized heroin weighing 7.25 kilograms in total.

The judge said carrying the drugs in the stomach is highly risky because the carrier will die if the drug package breaks.


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