Locked Up Abroad Travel Lessons: Cocaine Mule Mom

Peru holds some of Earth’s most cherished landmarks and ancient mysteries: the Amazon, Andes Mountains, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines to name a few. The ancient Inca centered their empire in Peru, and their presence is still felt in modern times. One of the Inca traditions that has not only survived but thrived is the growing and use of coca plants.

In case you’re misinformed, the coca plant does not equal cocaine. Cocaine is the final product of a complex chemical process that extracts a concentrated amount of alkaloids, which stimulates the central nervous system. But the coca leaves taken in their natural form – either by chewing the leaves or by brewing a tea – contain essential nutritional properties, which have been used as medicine in Andean societies for thousands of years.

According to the 2011 World Drug Report, Peru is the largest producer of coca in the world. Unfortunately most of the crop isn’t used for medicine or nutrition (interestingly Coca Cola still imports coca leaves for their products). Instead, it’s processed into cocaine and trafficked out of the country. The Peruvian government admits drug trafficking accounts for 17% of the country’s GDP, which was nearly $26.7 billion dollars in 2010.

The cocaine industry is massive, and it entraps many captivated by the illusion of easy money. Ruthie Lampbert was one such person. When her husband left her after she lost her job, she faced a $3,000 per month mortgage with children to support, as well. In order to preserve her home and lifestyle, she agreed to smuggle Peruvian cocaine for some friends who lived Austria.

Ruthie went on three trips to Lima in less than four months (each trip earning her $10,000). The frequency of her travels set off red flags, and the DEA and Peruvian authorities began to take notice. “I realized that if the American police are onto me, obviously I’m becoming hot,” Ruthie recalled. “It was really time to get out.” Unfortunately, she did not get out in time.

Desperation forced Ruthie to take unnecessary risks in hopes of reversing her misfortunes, and her drug dealing friends were more than willing to exploit her situation. If you ever fall on hard times, you, too, may be searching for a quick fix to dig yourself out of your hole, but please consider Ruthie’s experience before grabbing a shovel.

  • Making repeated short trips to destinations known for heavy drug trafficking will set off the alarms for drug enforcement agencies.
  • Being questioned by the authorities should be the number one reason to get out of the drug smuggling business immediately.
  • Never deal with a crooked cop.
  • Americans and Europeans are often recruited to smuggle drugs only to be set up by their suppliers as a way to distract the police. For every person like Ruthie who is caught with a few kilos, another person slips through with hundreds of pounds.
  • Ruthie was eventually able to bribe her way to freedom by finding a corrupt official. With over 36% of Peru’s population lives in poverty, a little cash incentive helped Ruthie out of a jam.

Don’t miss Locked Up Abroad: Cocaine Mule Mom tonight at 10P et/pt


  1. Mary Smith
    May 30, 2012, 10:15 pm

    They should tell the real story. She was in prison but she should tell the real story why she did what she did. She’s a liar. Don’t feel bad for her she is getting what she deserves.
    We all should live as well as she does just look at her facebook page.

  2. Pam
    United States
    May 30, 2012, 11:08 pm

    I don’t feel sorry for these people. They didn’t think twice about carrying their packages that kill people and families everyday. KARMA!!!

  3. John
    San Diego
    May 31, 2012, 8:59 am

    For too many reasons to list, I simply couldn’t stand this woman. What a brain-dead, used up and discarded idiot. The way she tried to justify her actions was pathetic, and the best part was when she got busted — she so deserved it. NEXT!

  4. Roger C.
    Gary, IN
    June 1, 2012, 5:55 pm

    She was a total idiot. If her story was true, she had several red flags that would have tipped her off that she was about to get caught. When the Peru immigration officials asked why she was coming to Lima so much, she should have stopped. US Customs searched her bag when she was about to go. She should have headed right back home on that trip, for certain. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out Customs was going to do the full Monty on her when she returned. They can pull your tax returns, bank statements, credit report and see her story doesn’t add up. They would have searched her extensively on her return. As it happened, Peru got her first. She was just a moron. Definitely the dumbest person ever on this show.

    To Mary Smith, what is the real story? I suppose I have a few guesses.

  5. Lori
    Southeast US
    June 1, 2012, 8:24 pm

    Ms. Smith – please share with us the “real story” . ..and “living well” as you described it – I really have to wonder how close to the situation you really are…

    ..and she got what she deserves? She received a death sentence..is that Karma enough for YOU Pam?

  6. Mary Smith
    June 2, 2012, 8:15 am

    By the way her husband didn’t leave her because lost her job she had a boyfriend. The marriage was over. When he left that was the reason.

  7. Lori
    June 2, 2012, 9:58 am

    ..and had nothing to do with the fact that the husband had a girlfriend…?

  8. Mary Smith
    June 5, 2012, 4:05 pm

    She had a boyfriend though out the marriage her husband did not have a girlfriend.. She is 14 years older than her second husband but she always cared about herself not her husband or her kids.She has been dying of cancer for a while now. She has not worked but yet can trarvel to the islands, Key West, Fl, etc. She has been back for at least a year and she gets disability. She has more money than me and I work. Her mortage was not $3000 a month and her husband did not leave her because she lost her job. He left because she had a boyfriend. The divorce ws just finalized and she is getting married again. The last I saw her was five years ago and she was with her now boyfriend. Her husband was in a bad motorcycle accident and she suddenly cared for him but at that point they were seperated and yes at that point he had a girlfriend(not me).Her daughter she was so worried about had been kicked out of school for doing drugs, destroyed the house and items in the house because she was high. She never cared for her kids. When she married the second husband she told people she didn’t know why she had them.
    I could write a book but she was always a liar and still is. I wonder how much they paid her for her “story”. She was working for the guy in Vienna for many years. I was surprised that she used their real names. I was almost family and not proud of it, just angry that she is living so well and has the nerve to put it out there. I am just glad that so many people see her for the idot that she is.

  9. Lori
    Southeast US
    June 6, 2012, 2:04 pm

    Ms. Smith, I think you should take a moment and walk in Ms. Lambert’s shoes today. I’m confident you’d feel differently if you knew the truth.

  10. Ella
    United States
    June 6, 2012, 9:24 pm

    i happen to be a very close and old friend of Ms. Lambert, and all the comments posted by Mary Smith are lies. Ms. Smith you must be related to her ex- husband. Her husband left her for another woman, my God he had his girlfriend in their house as she was going thru Chemo. for breast cancer. I know for a fact the she was totally in love with her husband and her kids. ya she did some dumb stuff and she knew the consequence of her actions and what could and did happen to her. She got caught and did her time in such a horrible place, no medical and her cancer came back and is un treatable. She never had a boyfriend thru the marriage, he would take her out one night and the next night he would be with his girlfriend only after he left her did she finally meet someone. Saying she lives high on the hog is also untrue, she is on a fix income, Yes she go’s to the key’s and has made trips..my God i would too if i had a death sentence. Whoever you are you must have a big hard on for her, makes me wonder who you really are, seeing how you did not use your real name,,,,i did. people who live in glass house’s should not through stones.

  11. Crystal
    June 6, 2012, 10:18 pm

    @ Mary Smith
    Family quarrels again I read here on these pages.
    You never did know the “REAL” story or maybe your translation is different and quote my words “definetly FAR from the truth”..
    Looking in, seeing though all these years, the love Ruthie has for her children is/was nothing short of caring for them first before her self. Her children are her ROCK. Her husband she adorded and loved. Ask anyone that doesnt tell a story from another but actually lived it.
    Ruthie cared for her childen and husband until her body couldn’t anymore and cancer had taken over.
    Where were you? You most certainly were not around for any length of time to truly grasp the love this family shared.
    You are telling a story that someone else wrote, not a story of observance.
    Get REAL!

  12. Crystal
    June 6, 2012, 10:24 pm

    The boyfriend story sounds like a good win however not a chance in the world. . The poor woman was undergoing CHEMO therapy, working a full time job, raisng her chldren the way she saw fit and took care of her husband.

  13. Mary Smith
    June 10, 2012, 10:18 pm

    I do andlived the real Ruthie. She ws married to her first husband when she was fooling around with the man who became her second husband. She had a boyfriend during the marriage. She told many people and I witnessed she did not care for her kids when they were small but she cafre enough now to get high with them.
    Ella how has she traveled to Newyork, gotten a car, has this new love and has a fixed income. I have a business and she is doing better than me. Her second husband helped her when she first got cancer and after his accident she beat him.
    I know her very well and am not going to put the whole story but I know her and I amnot theonly one who knows sheis lying. People who don’t know her know she’s a liar, etc. I know Ella you arfe one of her best friends but come on you know the truth. When he was almosts dying rom the accident sheall of sudden cared even though she had a booyfriend andyes he had a girlfriend she she wanted anopen marriage like the first marriage.
    Crystal, shedid not raise herchildfren they livedwith their father and she had weekend vists but coulod not care what they did. I saw this. She actually couldn’t understand why she had them. She lost one a party and everyone looked for him but Ruthie who was too drunk and high to care.
    Ella, you know who I am but you also know the truth. I hid my identy to protect her second husband but I know Ruthie nad she never took care of house, husband or family. People on fixed incomes don’t go to the keys, travel or tell ontheir friends on national tv. Biggi & Johnny helped her per the story so why use their real names and where they can be found. So when you lied inthe early days of her relationship and marriage to the second husband then you can call me liar. I lived it. She used me, my friends and yes-my son. I have many friends who met her then all called me to say she lied. I don’t care if Ruthie knows but she is geting what she deserves. You don’t rat on your friends.

  14. Mary Smith
    June 10, 2012, 10:23 pm

    Ask Ruthie about things and why told she Bill’s Grandmother she didn’t know why she had kids the first timeshe met her?
    No one can tell me about her -I lived it. I was there no had to tell me I saw it and lived it.

  15. Lori
    Southeast US
    June 12, 2012, 9:16 am

    @Mary Smith – you didn’t live it. Ruthie did. You heard what your son told you, Laurie. The only ones who know the truth are Ruthie and Bill. For you to assert to know the absolute truth is what diminishes your credibility.

    Here are the facts:
    Ruthie was married twice
    Ruthie has three children
    Ruthie’s second husband left her during a period of her life where she was fighting breast cancer and was out of work as a result
    Ruthie became desperate to preserve her basic needs
    Ruthie made poor choices and has paid her penance-in spades; because she was in prison, she was unable to receive medical care and her cancer has returned and will ultimately take her life
    Ruthie lives within a stone’s throw of the Florida keys, to visit there is not a contemptible offense
    Ruthie is unable to work and lives in veritable poverty
    Ruthie has never proclaimed to be a saint, but she is a good person with a good heart who loves her children and the details of her marriage(s) are none of anyone’s business and are hardly relevant in this forum
    Ruthie is guilty of “telling on” her friends in Austria? Seriously? Is there some drug smuggler code of ethics she violated? Johnny & Biggi exploited her as much as she evaded the law. They are not innocent in this scenario yet they remain free

    We’d thank you to stick to the facts.

  16. FR
    June 23, 2012, 8:06 pm

    This woman made me angry. Her version of events were incriminating enough, but she still made an effort to minimize her personal responsibility. She is a lowlife, just got arrested again for DUI two months ago in South Florida (google her to see the mugshots). I don’t believe anything she said.

  17. FR
    June 23, 2012, 8:19 pm

    She knew she had a cancer history before going smuggling and a potential for recurrence. She used/abused drugs and her body despite this and appears to continue to do so considering she was arrested a few weeks ago for DUI. I’m not going to feel bad for her. If she really were so concerned about her health, she would have taken different actions — especially after one/two runs. She had opportunities to get a real job but she was preoccupied with partying, going to “cool” spanish-speaking heavy metal music bars, traveling, partyig etc while pushing her parental responsibilities off on her ex. She repeatedly made choices that impacted more people than just herself, and it’s obvious she hasn’t learned anything or she wouldn’t be drinkIng and driving. People who really care about their health/family may make one or two stupid mistakes but to repeatedly continue the pattern of flagrant abuse, while importing drugs that harm others in various ways, doesn’t make me feel empathy.

  18. Williow joi
    July 2, 2012, 9:20 pm

    What mean people. Can any of you cast the first stone? May God have mercy on your souls.

  19. Adrian
    United Kingdom
    August 26, 2012, 11:35 am

    I dont pretend to understand the issues behind this – however, to get locked up anywhere you have to break the law!

    I have a suggestion on how to view this:[website redacted]

    Thoughts and comments welcome.

  20. Lori
    Southeast US
    October 10, 2012, 1:58 pm

    Just to keep you “haters” up to date, Ruthie has since paid the ultimate price for her acts, she succumbed to breast cancer in September 2012.

    The US Embassy did nothing to help her obtain medical care during her stay in Peru. She knew her cancer had returned and eventually the Peruvian authorities did perform testing on her, however they also stated there was no evidence of cancer…yet just a few short months later, she returned to the US with Stage IV metastatic disease. Had she been cared for, even the slightest bit, during her time in Peru, she’d still be with us today.

    God finally showed her mercy, which is more than I can say for most of you.

  21. Nancy Navas
    November 22, 2012, 3:42 am

    These people that are sooooooooooo judgemental of this poor woman are true PIGS and i have NO RESPECT for anyone attacking Ruthie Lambert

  22. Jamesol
    December 13, 2012, 8:12 am

    Yes, they are truly sick. If it can be of any comfort to Mrs. Lambert’s left behind family and friends, I can tell them that I as a typical normal empathic reader can easily see through these obscene hate-comments. To see one of them using the word “empathy” sort of makes me smile, he wouldn’t really know, nor feel, the meaning of that word, would he? Sorry to hear of Mrs. Lamberts departure.

  23. Chantelle
    January 3, 2013, 4:19 pm

    I’m quite familiar with stage iv breast cancer as I have it myself and I moderate a support board for people with it. I can tell you that she would have developed metastatic cancer whether she had smuggled drugs or not, whether she was in jail or not, and whether she was in Peru or not. She did not develop mets as punishment for her actions; if that was the case, good people would never, ever develop mets and that is simply not the case.

    Even had she been living in the US when her mets first developed, there’s no guarantee that she would have lived any longer than she did. There’s just no way to know.

  24. Altin
    Edmonton, Canada
    January 4, 2013, 6:09 pm

    I am absolutely disgusted with the comments of Mrs. Smith and other judgemental people in this board. We are all broken and sinners. I need to remind to Mary Smith, what Jesus said to the crowd when they were trying to stone the woman caught in adultery. I am sorry for Ruth passing away and I send my sincere sympathies and support to the remaining members of her family. She made a mistake and paid for that, but who was else has been innocent in this world beside of Jesus! Rest in Peace Ruthie, and may God has mercy for your soul!

  25. Lori
    Southeast US
    February 14, 2013, 8:45 pm

    Ruthie’s family sincerely appreciates the kind words offered by the virtual strangers who’ve posted here. No one is perfect. she knew she wasn’t, but she had many loyal friends & compassionate family who loves her.

    May Ruthie rest in peace <3

  26. Ruthie S
    October 19, 2013, 9:57 pm

    OKAYYYYY. Now. I am also a Ruthie. Please read the Holy Bible for more clues about what it is like to be Ruthie. Their is also a date rape drug named after us. Roofies. Basically, in the Book of Ruth, she is sent? lost? by her original family. She marries. The husband gets into all sorts of legal trouble, and it was told to Ruthie that she has not only lost him, but also her home. And she has nowhere to go. She must stay, as a good woman that she is, with her mother-in-law. Who changes her own name. They have fields of land, crops. Ruth is having to do whatever the mother-in-law tells her to do. We do not know if Ruth is adopted by Naomi’s family in the start of this relationship/family deal. Rarely can a quiet but disturbed woman, who DOES LOVE HER kids, but has been told she has nothing, is nothing and came from nothing, mastermind the scenarios. She is beautiful, but has been sent to this family, not knowing or remembering where she came from, or that they are dead. She is vulnerable. She does not see the mother-in-law’s true heart. The mother-in-law then makes an agreement with Boaz to marry/own Ruth and all of her property. In all liklihood, the men in the family could not tell her what did belong to her, or of her dowry, which turned out to be the very land she was working. This was her family dowry. Boaz and Nay-owe-me, decides to tell Ruth, to go out and work the fields, because they are very poor, ever since the legal issues her son went through.Which is of course Ruthie’s fault, for not being a better woman. Boaz pretends to be enthralled by Ruth’s beauty, and wants to marry her. He is known to own many lands. He then takes 3/4 of the grains/crops, whatever it is they were growing, that Ruth has toiled as a slave, to produce. Yes, he was a Bozo. I met 2 men, who looked like Bozo the clown. It never does say in the Book, whether or not Ruthie ever finds any legal help for herself. Or is able to find out that she truly is the rightful queen of those landis, or is able to find a way to regain her fife, or her dowry. We are not told whether or not, in her mental emotional state, that she is ever cared for and loved, because so many who were jealous of her, kept the t-ruth from her about who she was. now, I pity you for being angry that someone in the USA understood this TRUE story, and saw the parallels. Perhaps the only person who had the connections to rescue her was the crooked official. It could even be that he was the one who arrested her father and husband to start with. Perhaps he was “married” to the mother-in-law. Anyway, it all got dumped on Ruth, who was punished because she DID love her family and her kids, and her husband. Its amazing what jealous people can do to ruin somebody’s life. It’s not like Ruthie was ever getting the royalties she deserved. There’s no way she was in any knowledgable condition, or emotional condition at the time, after she was the queen. therefore she took all the blame, and never even set foot in her palace. Bless Ruth, and all the Ruth’s who were uninformed, manipulated, traded around like a poker chip, and been surrounded by forces out of her control. Bless all the Ruth’s who were sold or traded out to very bad people, who wanted to ruin her faith and steal her life, children, home, identity, beauty, music, artworks, truths, generosity, and those that who do not see that she was very courageous, among the worst of the worst. Thanks Ya’ll. Love, Ruthie S.

  27. ely
    March 25, 2014, 3:54 pm

    I have just watched Ruthie’s storie and hoped she would still be alive but knew it was not likely. Yes, she made mistakes & yes she broke the law, but she has not just done her time she has paid the ultimate price. I feel sorry, not for Ruthie as she is now a free spirit free from pain and in heaven, but for the people who say “well she broke the law so she deserves everything she gets”. They are clealy small minded sad people who have no idea how to spell compassion & forgiveness let alone what they mean!
    I feel for her children who have lost a mother and her parents who have lost a daughter. I hope they realise that the cruel comments are from people who have nothing better to do than kick a woman when she’s down. ..they should remember Ruthie as a an amazing lady who accepted she made mistakes and told her story in the hope she could stop others from making the same ones.
    RIP Ruthie & God Bless xxxxx

  28. Mohamed
    England, London
    April 5, 2014, 5:31 pm

    ATTENTION ELLA!! ELLA!! or anyone out their who knows how i can get in contact with the kids of Ruthie Lambert,,, my reason is to give them Motivation and Support as myself i have been through many family problems,,, and have overcome it with lots of prayers to God- Allah,,, and many people in my life motivated me to keep moving foward,,,,,

    anyone has any contact information of the kids of Ruthie Lambert?,,,

    i just watched the documentary about her,, and i feel sorry for her,, and also the kids,,,, ,, would really like to contact the kids,, via e mail,, facebook ?? please anyone??

    Thank You

  29. Tina
    Lincoln, england
    October 19, 2014, 3:54 pm

    I have also just watched ruthies story, it never amazes me how absolutely dire life can become, to the point of irrational thinking and jumping into dangerous actions and obvious consequences. But until that point in your own life, (and it will come) you cannot comment on actions of others. I thought Facebook was bad for hanging out your dirty laundry but reading this blog takes the biscuit. R.i.p ruthie. Sounds like it’s quieter where you are. Thinking of your family and friends xxx

  30. Who_is_ur_daddy
    February 6, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Ruthie strory was hard. Many people here write only the basis of rumors. what is her love life status it is not our business.

    Rip Ruthie

  31. Peace
    February 14, 2015, 9:31 am

    Sad story

    I guess life just got so hard that she couldn’t think rationally and had no one to reach out to.

    It’s sick that biggi gets away with it and the mule gets all the blame.

  32. not sure
    dupage county, illinois
    March 24, 2015, 4:36 pm

    Yikes! After watching this relatively old episode of ‘Locked Up Abroad’ and then reading these posts from APPARENT family and, uh – friends; I’ve come to the conclusion that Ruthie was the only one of you with any intelligence and articulation. I wish her children well. Period.

  33. Lara
    The Netherlands
    August 21, 2015, 5:52 am

    Forget about all the personal stuff, I’m a little confused about the actual case. In the episode they said Ruthie had to escape from prison in order to get to the US so she could be treated for her cancer. Then they just gloss over the whole escape part and have her in a car on her way to Ecuador. How did she escape the prison??
    Also, The US have an extradition treaty with Peru, so why was she never extradited?

  34. rhiannon
    October 18, 2015, 1:17 pm

    you all have no idea what i went through yes, i say she was wrong for leaving me the way she did but dont downsize like all of you have never made a mistake! thanks!!!!

  35. joseph
    August 24, 2016, 5:00 pm

    What happened to her, is she still alive or what?

  36. Brendan
    December 23, 2016, 8:56 am