13 November 2023, 12:18pm
Elderly traveller charged over alleged heroin import into Australia
This is a joint media release between the AFP and Australian Border Force.
Editor's note: Images available via Hightail.
The AFP has charged a New Zealand national with serious drug import offences, after the elderly passenger allegedly smuggled illicit drugs inside his luggage on board an international flight to Australia at the weekend.
The man, 70, is accused of concealing about 5kg of heroin inside his baggage in an alleged attempt to import the illicit drugs into Melbourne on Saturday (11 November, 2023).
Investigations began after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined the man's luggage at Melbourne Airport upon his flight's arrival from Manila into Melbourne on Saturday morning.
Officers allegedly discovered anomalies within a brown suitcase and a handbag belonging to the passenger.
Further examinations of both items revealed a white powdery substance which tested positive for the presence of heroin. The matter was subsequently referred to the AFP and the passenger was arrested inside the terminal.
This amount of heroin has an estimated street value over $2 million and could have accounted for about 25,000 individual hits of heroin had it reached the Australian community.
The New Zealand national was charged with:
- One count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely heroin, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- One count of possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely heroin, contrary to section 307.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.
The man faced the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Saturday, 11 November, 2023 and did not apply for bail. His next court appearance is Friday, 2 February, 2024.
AFP Detective Superintendent Anthony Hall said the AFP worked together with its state, Commonwealth and international partners to prevent transnational serious and organised crime from bringing illicit substances into Australia.
"The AFP together with our law enforcement partners have prevented harmful, illicit drugs from reaching our community," said Det-Supt Hall.
"We remain committed to targeting, identifying and prosecuting transnational serious and organise criminals attempting to operate in our country and targeting us from offshore, along with the alleged drug mules trying to smuggle these drugs into our communities.
"This arrest should serve as yet another clear warning to anyone attempting to bring illicit drugs into Australia – you will be caught and you will face the full force of the law."
ABF Superintendent Aviation Traveller Victoria, Kelly-anne Parish, said those lured into doing the dirty work of organised crime groups should be aware that they don't stand a chance at the Australian border.
"We too often see people from all walks of life enticed into situations like this by organised crime groups, for which the individual doing the dirty work faces very real consequences," Supt Parish said.
"Our message to people who are tempted by these types of illegal activities is clear: No offer is worth the risk. ABF officers are one step ahead of you and you will be caught out.
"The Australian border is our most critical national asset, and so ABF officers will continue to work around the clock to ensure it remains a hostile environment for those doing the wrong thing."
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.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, visit Turning Point.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297