AFP charges third traveller in two months for allegedly smuggling drugs internally
An Austrian woman who ingested 124 pellets allegedly filled with cocaine before travelling to Australia is the third person charged in the past two months for allegedly importing drugs concealed internally.
It will be alleged the combined weight of the pellets was nearly 1kg of cocaine and the woman, 27, had excreted and re-swallowed eight of the pellets during her travel.
The AFP and Australian Border Force (ABF) are working together to combat the potentially deadly practice and ensure airports are not used by criminal syndicates as drug supply routes.
The agencies have caught and charged three foreign travellers since 28 December, 2022, for allegedly smuggling cocaine concealed internally.
The woman, 27, was the latest charged after ABF officers selected her for a baggage examination when she arrived at Perth International Airport from Europe on 11 February. During the examination, ABF officers noted the presence of certain indicators, which led them to refer the case to the AFP for investigation.
AFP officers escorted the woman to Royal Perth Hospital, where she excreted 124 pellets under medical supervision between 5pm Saturday (11 February) and about 1.30pm Monday (13 February).
She was discharged from hospital after scans confirmed there were no more pellets concealed internally.
The AFP charged her with one count of importing a marketable quantity of cocaine, contrary to section 307.2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
She faced Perth Magistrates Court on Tuesday (14 February, 2023) and was remanded in custody to reappear on 10 March, 2023.
An Irish national was charged in December (2022) after he allegedly imported about 120 grams of cocaine into Melbourne internally concealed, inside six Kinder Surprise capsules.
A Portuguese man was caught a few days later when he flew into Sydney, allegedly importing about 1.6kg of cocaine that he was carrying internally.
AFP Commander Kate Ferry said the detection of three alleged internal imports in eight weeks was a concerning trend, due to the significant health risks faced by anyone ingesting packages of drugs.
“Anyone trying to move drugs across borders concealed inside their bodies is not only risking a substantial jail term but potentially a fatal drug overdose or permanent damage to their internal organs,” she said.
“The AFP estimates the seizure of these three illicit imports has saved the community more than $1.75 million in drug-related harm, including associated crime, healthcare and loss of productivity.
“The photographs of the seized pellets of drugs after they’ve been excreted should also highlight to drug users the disgusting reality of how these illicit substances are transported across the world.”
ABF Superintendent Vesna Gavranich said that anyone attempting to import illicit substances by internal concealment was putting their health and freedom in danger.
“This type of disgusting behaviour is not worth the risk to your life,” Superintendent Gavranich said.
“Our officers are highly trained in detecting and disrupting attempts to import illicit substances. We will ensure you are caught and face prosecution.
“As the first line of defence for our community, the ABF, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to make it a hostile place for criminals involved in the importation of illegal drugs.”
Note to media:
Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.
- For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
- Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at counsellingonline.org.au.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to turningpoint.org.au.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297
ABF Media: (02) 6264 2211