Malaysia: Facebook 'used to recruit female drug mules'

Facebook page on an Apple iphone
Image caption The minister said girls were being lured by men on Facebook to become drug mules

International drug syndicates are using social networking websites like Facebook to recruit young Malaysian women as drug mules, officials say.

The Malaysian foreign ministry has said young women are being offered money and gifts by men who befriend them on the internet.

Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Riot said most of the men were from Nigeria and South Africa.

Mr Riot has urged young women to be more cautious.

His comments come after a young Malaysian girl was arrested in China last month on suspicion of carrying drugs into the country.

Mr Riot said men in the syndicates "picked up" their unsuspecting victims on Facebook.

"It has been happening for quite some time, these girls are being lured by these men on Facebook, these men chat with them, become friends, gain the girls' trust, then use them as drug mules to smuggle narcotics," he told the AFP news agency.

"They even offer to pay for holidays to Japan, China and South America, asking the girls to carry packages, bags or gifts that contain drugs," he added.

"We are advising these internet-savvy, university-aged girls to think before accepting such holidays and gifts as such things always come with strings attached."

He added the issue also concerned South East Asia and Central Asia.

Mr Riot said 785 out of 1,560 Malaysians arrested overseas since 1991 were drug mules, including 149 women.