The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has charged an older man from New Zealand with serious drug import offences after he allegedly smuggled illicit drugs inside his luggage on board an international flight to Australia.
The man, 70, is accused of concealing about 5kg of heroin inside his baggage in an alleged attempt to smuggle contraband into Melbourne on Saturday.
Investigations began after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined the man’s luggage at Melbourne Airport after arriving via a flight from Manila.
Officers allegedly discovered anomalies within the passenger’s brown suitcase and a handbag. 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 older man was arrested inside the terminal.
This amount of heroin has an estimated street value of over $2 million and could have accounted for about 25,000 individual hits of heroin.
The man has been charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and one count of possessing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
The man faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on the same day and did not apply for bail. He will appear in court again in February.
The offender could potentially face the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for these offences.
Older people are vulnerable targets for criminals to coerce into smuggling drugs into Australia. They are increasingly targeted by online scammers who then force them to act as drug mules in an attempt to recover lost money.
Last year, a joint partnership between AFP and ABF led to 18 arrests of older people over the past 12 months for attempting to traffick drugs into the country.
ABF Superintendent Aviation Traveller Victoria, Kelly-anne Parish, said those lured into doing the dirty work of organised crime groups should be aware of the dangers and risks.
“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.”
For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.