JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A South African woman has been caught smuggling cocaine in her dreadlocks by customs officials at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Nobanda Nolubabalo, 23, was searched by police after arriving in Bangkok on a Qatar Airways flight from Sao Paulo via Doha.
Police told the Bangkok Post they had noticed a white substance in her hair, and upon searching Nolubabalo's dreadlocks, found 3.3 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated 4.5 million baht ($145,000).
Police said Nolubabalo admitted to smuggling the drugs in her dreadlocks. She was to be paid 60,000 baht ($1,900) to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok, Thai media reported.
Nolubabalo, nicknamed "Babsie," is from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa's Times newspaper reported.
Thailand has severe penalties for drug convictions, including long jail sentences and even the death penalty for some offenses.
The SABC reported that Nolubabalo is the 12th South African to be caught for drug trafficking in Thailand this year.
The group Locked Up Abroad told Eyewitness News that the number of South African drug mules imprisoned in foreign countries "is rising at an alarming rate every month."
On Monday, China executed Janice Bronwyn Linden by lethal injection for drug smuggling, despite a last-minute plea for clemency by South African President Jacob Zuma.
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