World's 'Youngest Drug Mules' Now In Foster Care

By McCarton Ackerman 03/12/15

Two preschoolers were used as accessories by family members to smuggle cocaine.

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Two French children are now in the hands of foster care officials in France after their mother and other family members reportedly exploited them as what may be the world’s youngest drug mules.

Laticha, 4, and Roy, 3, were allegedly used as accessories by family members, who took them on numerous flights while smuggling almost five kilograms of cocaine hidden in diapers in suitcases. They were found abandoned two weeks ago outside the train station in the city of Nice, appearing “lost and disoriented.” Their 70-year-old grandfather reportedly left them at the train station after an international cocaine smuggling attempt by the family backfired.

Nobody came to pick up the children or even reported them as missing after five days, so police began to investigate and went public with an appeal for information. They eventually learned that the children’s mother, 44-year-old Vanessa Bergmans, was sentenced last month to four years in prison and a $215,000 fine. She was the mother to eight children by two different fathers and had been living on welfare for about a year with most of her kids.

"Using little kids like that in an attempt to smuggle drugs is not only reprehensible, it also puts them in real danger,” said Laurie Duca of the Nice prosecutor’s office. Bergman’s lawyer, Slim Ayachim, told the Daily Beast that she had admitted to the crimes. She described her as “typical” of a female drug mule in that she “is fragile, uneducated, with very little money. She is ashamed and upset about what has happened and is very worried about her children.”

Police are still investigating the whereabouts of the grandfather who abandoned the two children. Bergman claims her father didn’t abandon the kids and expressed concern for his health since he is sick with prostate cancer, but police seem less convinced. One detective in Nice believes that the grandfather “figured out she’d been arrested and he’d be next, so he just took off."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.