Australian authorities on Monday said they intercepted an estimated 8.5-kg haul of methamphetamine carried on a flight that originated in Cambodia last week.
A joint statement from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service said that a 41-year-old New Zealand national has been charged with importing a controlled drug after narcotics were discovered in suitcases belonging to her.
In the latest case highlighting Cambodia’s role as a transit—and sometimes production—hub for drug traffickers, the statement says 8.5 kg of methamphetamine was found in two suitcases that arrived unaccompanied at Darwin International Airport on a flight from Cambodia via Singapore on Friday.
“During an examination of the suitcases, Australian Customs and Border Protection officers conducted a swab analysis which returned a positive reading for narcotics,” it says.
The suitcases were found to contain seven empty backpacks with “an off-white crystal substance concealed within the back padding,” which tests revealed was methamphetamine.
Police then discovered that the New Zealand national—named in local media as Bernadine Prince—was the owner of the suitcases and had arrived on another flight from Cambodia via Singapore on Thursday, a day before the suitcases.
“AFP officers executed a search warrant at a hotel in Darwin and the woman was later located in the Darwin [central business district],” the statement says, adding that she was interviewed by police before being charged.
A report published on the website of Melbourne-based daily the Herald Sun said Ms. Prince would appear in court again Wednesday for a bail hearing, and that the case would be heard in August.
The suspect faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $328,000.
“Prosecutors told the court that police from Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia and Kenya were involved in the investigation,” the report says.
It is unclear if the drugs were manufactured in Cambodia, and what role Kenya plays in the smuggling.
In Song, deputy chief of the processing unit at the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department, said he was unaware of the case, but said Cambodian police would look into any information provided by Australia. “If Australian police cooperate with our anti-drug police here and we get some information or a confession [from the suspect], we will start an investigation.”