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An air hostess swapped selling cupcakes for smuggling heroin in her bra and underwear to pay for mounting medical bills.
Zailee Hana Zainal spent three months practicing how to walk with drug packages stuffed between her thighs, a court heard.
The 40-year-old drug runner made the trip more than 20 times, earning £940 per go.
Passengers on Malindo Air flights had no idea that the steward showing them emergency exits and serving them drinks had packages of hard drugs stashed in her underwear.
The smuggler, from Malaysia, was tasked by a kingpin to traffic the substances into Australia, Victoria County Court heard.
In a Breaking Bad turn of events, Zainal got involved with the criminal underworld after a desperate plea to pay her families medical bills.
The mother had agreed to start drug running because of her seriously ill daughter’s expensive health requirements, news.com.au reports.
Judge Cahill said Zainal’s daughter, Mia, had grave congenital abnormalities and required repeated surgeries before she was one year old — with more surgeries to come on top of medication for her constant pain.
The air hostess first tried selling cupcakes and then Tupperware before she and her husband begged friends and family for help. in an email.
A recruiter “took advantage of her vulnerability” and approached the “desperate” woman in March 2018 about joining the trafficking syndicate.
The syndicate was run on the Australian side by the “Queen of Richmond” Michelle Tran, who has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentence.
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Zainal’s collected the heroin in Malaysia, smuggled it into Australia and gave it Tran or one of her associates in clandestine bathroom meet-ups.
She flew with a kilogram of heroin stashed inside her bra and knickers.
The scheme came to and end when she was arrested at the airport on January 6, 2019.
In a letter to the court, Zainal wrote: “I did not think about what these drugs could do.
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“Since being in prison I have seen the terrible effect drugs have on people.
“I am so sorry.”
Zainal was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison, and she will serve at least four years and nine months without parole.
Judge Michael Cahill said the smuggler deserved leniency because of her motivation.
He said: “You knew you were carrying a border controlled drug, and persons in Melbourne were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“You worked as a courier for a highly sophisticated transnational drug syndicate.”
Judge Cahill said Zainal’s three children including Mia, now nine, will be cared for by her sister while Zainal is in prison.
Her husband — also a flight attendant — is “living off generosity” because of Covid-19.
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