A Malaysian passport holder who flew to Brisbane (from Vietnam via Brunei) on September 18, 2010, and was later found during a random customs search to have 1975 grams of methamphetamine sewed into the lining of his luggage (contained in plastic bags), did not fair well in the Queensland Supreme Court in Brisbane yesterday (October 10).
Nageswararao Thathiah, who pleaded not guilty to importing the meth into Australia, insisted that he had packed his bag himself, yet at the same said that he told immigration officers he would be staying in a hotel the first night and intended to spend the rest of his time with friends in Brisbane; however, when cross-examined, he could not recall the names or contact information of any friends in Brisbane.
COMMENT: I would presume that Australian officials have determined whether the defendant's Malaysian passport was fraudulently-obtained or altered. Even if it was genuine, it is very likely that the Malaysian "tourist" will be spending far more time in Australia, than he had originally planned.
Apart from the facts of this case, there are a few lessons-learned that we can all benefit from: Always thoroughly examine luggage that you are using for a trip, to ensure that it contains no contraband, pointed objects or other items that may potentially get you into trouble if the bag is searched by customs officials. This would also include suspicious documents or publications.
A final piece of advice for recreational drug users: Luggage that has previously contained any illegal drug or narcotic, even a trace, may often be detected by drug detection dogs used randomly in airports. Better to be safe than sorry.