French backpacker arrested over S$2.49 million in heroin

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A Frenchman who attempted to smuggle heroin worth NT$60 million (S$2.49 million) has been arrested, the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau (MJIB) and the Military Police Command said yesterday in a joint press conference.

According to an agent of the MJIB, most drug traffickers originate from Southeast Asia. However, cases of smugglers from developed countries have seen a recent increase, likely due to immigration authorities having good impressions of travelers from European and North American countries.

International drug organizations have lured backpackers with unique nationalities more and more as of late, like the French backpacker arrested, said the agent.

The backpacker, with the last name Jacobs, was been reported to be traveling around Southeast Asia and also reportedly said that his current residence is in Thailand where he holds a position as an English teacher.

Upon receiving a tip, according to representatives from both agencies, a taskforce that conducted surveillance and investigation operations soon discovered the involvement of a drug dealer, surnamed Chen, who met with Jacobs in Taipei on April 10 to retrieve a black backpack Jacobs had brought with him from Bangkok.

Authorities soon arrested Chen when the alleged culprit met with his daughter around Taipei Main Station, where agents confiscated up to 1.5 kg of heroin that has been estimated to be worth NT$60 million.

The agencies later arrested Jacobs as well, discovering evidence such as the US$10,000 payment he received for smuggling the heroin. Both Chen and Jacobs were brought before the Taipei District Prosecutors Office where they admitted to their crimes. Following queries from prosecutors, both culprits were held in custody under approval from the Taipei District Court.