A Cambodian-Australian woman was arrested and charged last week after allegedly ingesting 252 balloons packed with heroin, then attempting to smuggle the drug into Sydney from Cambodia, according to Australian police.
The 50-year-old woman—whom police did not identify—arrived at Sydney Airport on January 8 on a flight from Cambodia, according to a joint statement released Tuesday by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
Customs officials randomly selected her bag for inspection and found ephedrine and cocaine residue, the statement says.
This prompted them to ask the woman to undergo a body scan, which showed “inconsistencies,” before handing her over to the AFP.
“The woman was taken to hospital and later passed a total of 252 pellets,” the statement says. “Initial testing indicated the pellets contained heroin.”
A photograph provided by the AFP shows that each cylindrical balloon-wrapped package is about 2 cm long and 1 cm in diameter.
The AFP charged the woman with “importing a marketable quantity of border controlled drug,” a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment, the statement says. AFP spokeswoman Venetia Cameron declined to provide further details about the case.
In an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Tuesday, the charged woman was identified as Lorn Cheng, who lives in Cabramatta, a suburb of Sydney, and holds dual citizenship.
According to the article, Ms. Cheng’s 22-year-old daughter, Brenda, said her mother frequently traveled to Cambodia, but the arrest came as a surprise.
“I didn’t know anything. This is such a huge shock. She has never done anything like this whatsoever,” Brenda told the newspaper.
According to the article, Ms. Cheng was released on strict conditional bail and is scheduled to appear in court in March.