‘Inside’ story of a Malaysian air hostess who smuggled heroin in her undies

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PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian flight attendant, jailed in Australia for smuggling heroin in her bra and underwear, was pushed to desperation over her daughter’s mounting healthcare costs, a court was told.


According to Australian portal news.com.au, judge Michael Cahill told the County Court of Victoria it took Zailee Hana Zainal three months of practice before she could walk confidently with a package of heroin between her thighs.

The 40-year-old told investigators she had made more than 20 smuggling trips, playing a role in millions of dollars worth of heroin hitting Australia’s streets.

But when sentencing her to nine years and six months’ prison with four years and nine months’ non-parole, Cahill said she was deserving of leniency because of the motivation behind her smuggling.

She had agreed to carry A$1,700 (RM5,040) worth of drugs per trip, hiding the packages underneath her Malindo Air hostess uniform because of her ill daughter’s expensive health requirements.

Cahill said Zailee’s daughter 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.

After numerous failed attempts to raise the money, Zailee and her husband sent out an email to their colleagues and associates begging for help, which is when a recruiter “took advantage of her vulnerability” and approached the “desperate” woman in March 2018 about joining the trafficking syndicate.

The syndicate was ran on the Australian side by the “Queen of Richmond” Michelle Tran, who has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentence.


Zailee’s job was to collect the heroin in Malaysia, smuggle it into Australia, give it to Tran or one of her associates in clandestine bathroom meet-ups and return to Malaysia to collect her cut.

In a letter to the court, Zailee wrote: “I did not think about what these drugs could do,” adding that “since being in prison I have seen the terrible effect drugs have on people”.

“I am so sorry.”

The judge said Zailee claimed she did not know the packages contained heroin, but she knew her behaviour was not legal.

“You knew you were carrying a border-controlled drug, and persons in Melbourne were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.

Cahill said Zailee’s three children would be cared for by her sister while she is in prison.

Zailee pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of heroin relating to eight instances of her drug-trafficking flights. -FMT

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