Customs media release
Australian woman treated in hospital after attempting to import heroin in stomach - Monday, 5th January 2009
Joint media release - Customs and Australian Federal Police
A 45-year-old Prestons woman was charged in Alice Springs today with importing a marketable quantity of heroin which she allegedly ingested.
The woman spent the weekend recovering after being rushed to Alice Springs Hospital off a flight from Vietnam on New Year's Eve.
A package alleged to contain heroin ruptured in her stomach during the flight from Ho Chi Minh City.
The flight, bound for Sydney, was diverted to Alice Springs after the woman became ill on board.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) met the plane and escorted the woman, along with ambulance officers, to Alice Springs Hospital where doctors monitored her condition.
The woman underwent emergency surgery to remove the packages from her stomach and intestine after showing signs of overdose and her condition began to rapidly deteriorate.
A 50-year-old Prestons man was also charged with internally concealing heroin and faced Alice Springs Local Court on Friday.
Both the man and the woman have been remanded in custody.
The 45-year-old woman and the 50-year-old man are together alleged to have internally concealed more than 250 grams of heroin.
They have both been charged with importing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug under section 307.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.
AFP National Manager Border and International Tim Morris said attempting to smuggle drugs into Australia by swallowing them, was extremely dangerous and could lead to death.
"No amount of money is worth dying for, this woman's experience highlights the dangers and risks Australians are taking when they ingest these drugs packages," Assistant Commissioner Morris said.
"A person could potentially lose their life as a result."
Customs Acting National Director Passengers, Joan O'Reilly, said the AFP and Customs were working vigilantly to protect Australia's borders from illegal drug importations.
"These drugs pose a serious health risk to the Australian community and, as we have seen this week, can also have deadly consequences for those who attempt to conceal the drugs internally," Ms O'Reilly said.
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $550,000 and/or 25 years imprisonment.
Customs Media (02) 6275 6793
AFP National Media (02) 6275 7100
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