'Queen’ of heroin smuggling crime syndicate jailed

Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Victoria Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

The self-described ‘queen’ of a criminal drug smuggling syndicate who has been convicted for her role in attempting to import high grade heroin into Melbourne was sentenced to prison in the Melbourne County Court today (Thursday 19 November, 2020).

The 49-year-old Richmond woman, who was charged with a string of serious illicit drug offences, including importing and trafficking commercial quantities of heroin, was handed a jail term of 18 years with a non-parole period of 13 years.

She was initially charged in early 2019 as part of a multi-agency law enforcement operation code-named Operation Sunrise. Further information released at the time of the initial arrests is available here.

The investigation uncovered a large-scale heroin smuggling operation believed to be responsible for the importation of an estimated $6 million dollars’ worth of illicit drugs using international airline cabin crew, operating into Melbourne

The Victoria Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) – comprising Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), Victoria Police (VICPOL) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) – launched enquiries into the syndicate in December 2018 as part of a wider investigation into the alleged criminal syndicate.

The JOCTF arrested the 49-year-old woman in Richmond on 8 January 2019, after she acted as the Australian contact for a Malaysian-based supplier. She is considered to have played a high-level role as syndicate leader in Australia.

It was alleged in court her contacts would advise her of upcoming flights into Australia, where she would then facilitate cabin crew members to covertly import what were described as ‘tickets’ of heroin.

Her offending spans the period between 2 October 2018 to 8 January 2019 and relates to her involvement in multiple separate drug-related deals.  

She was involved in the importation of eight kilograms of heroin, which had an estimated street value of $6 million.

The woman was convicted on the following charges:

  • 1 x business of importing commercial quantities of border controlled drugs (heroin), contrary to sections 307.1(1) and 311.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • 1 x business of trafficking commercial quantities of border controlled drugs (heroin), contrary to sections 302.2(1) & 311.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Today’s sentencing follows the conviction last month of a 28-year-old Sunshine North man and a 57-year-old Deer Park woman. They were sentenced in Melbourne County Court on 28 October and are currently serving terms of imprisonment.

The AFP, working with its partners, are committed to protecting the Australian community from the harm caused by the importation and trafficking in drugs.

Note to media:

Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.

  • For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
  • Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
  • For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.