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Pensioner arrested with $2m of heroin

Man faces life in prison for drug smuggling

A 70-year-old man has faced court charged with attempting to smuggle heroin into Australia with a street value of more than $2 million.

The elderly New Zealand national was arrested at Melbourne Airport on Saturday after 5kg of heroin was found in his luggage.

Investigations began after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined his luggage upon his flight's arrival from Manila.

Officers allegedly discovered anomalies within a brown suitcase and a handbag belonging to the passenger.

The drug seizes could have accounted for about 25,000 individual hits of heroin had it reached the Australian community.

The man faced Melbourne Magistrates' Court on the same day as his arrest and was charged with two offences. He did not apply for bail. The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.

"The AFP together with our law enforcement partners have prevented harmful, illicit drugs from reaching our community," said Anthony Hall, AFP Det-Supt.

"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."

Kelly-anne Parish, ABF Superintendent Aviation Traveller Victoria, said those lured into doing the dirty work as a “mule” for organised crime groups, whatever their age, should consider the consequences.

"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," she added.

"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."



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Published: 14 November 2023

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