A Malaysian flight attendant has landed almost a decade in prison after smuggling millions of dollars of heroin into Australia.
Zailee Zainal, who worked for Malindo Air, was caught in 2019 when Border Force busted the international drug syndicate she was recruited by.
The 40-year-old was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison for trafficking about $3 million worth of heroin into Australia between October 2018 and January 2019, according to ABC News.
The court heard that Zainal was recruited by the syndicate after a friend learned she was desperate to pay medical bills for her children.
Zainal had asked the airline to canvas for donations to help her when she was approached by the operation.
“It was after that email that someone I thought was a friend approached me as a carrier,” she said, according to ABC News.
“I was vulnerable and at the time willing to do anything.”
She then went through vigorous training which included talking in code and walking confidently with a package between her legs. She was paid only $6,500 for her efforts.
County Court Judge Michael Cahill said Zainal deserved leniency.
“There is a place for the exercise of mercy in sentencing,” the Cahill said.
“You felt that you had no other option other than to commit a crime.
“You were desperate to raise money to pay for the operations your daughter needs to improve her quality of life.”
Zainal told investigators she thought she was carrying marijuana and said she would not have committed the crime if she had known it was heroin.
Since entering prison, she has been attending narcotics anonymous meetings to understand the impact of drugs.
The court also heard that Zainal’s husband, who was also a flight attendant, was unable to work since the start of the global pandemic.
Featured image source: Australian Border Force via ABC News