Sydney woman charged in Perth heroin seizure

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Australian Federal Police have charged a 37-year-old Vietnamese-born Australian woman after 2.6 kilograms of heroin was allegedly found in the lining of her suitcase.

Thitanh Ho and her two children, aged 18 months and three years, were travelling to Australia from Singapore. The woman's bags were selected for closer inspection when her behaviour aroused the suspicion of customs officials.

"Upon closer examination, customs officers discovered a white powder, which allegedly tested positive for heroin," said a customs officer.

Senator Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, said the detection was the largest seizure of heroin at the border in Western Australia for 12 years. “This seizure sends a clear message to those who attempt to import drugs that they will be caught,” he said.

Australian Federal Police spokesman Peter Wood said officers are investigating possible distribution networks. “Obviously we are looking at the source of the drugs and we're also looking to identify the network here in Australia where it was going to be distributed to," he said.

Ho appeared before Perth Magistrates' Court today charged with importing a border-controlled drug. She was remanded into custody and her children were placed into Government care.

The maximum penalty for drug trafficking is a fine of up to AU$750,000 and/or life imprisonment.

The arrest comes just three months after Singapore executed convicted Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van.