Woman hid heroin inside her body

A South African drug mule has today admitted hiding heroin inside her body and smuggling it into New Zealand.

Laura Elizabeth Cilliers, 32, can be named today for the first time after her name suppression was dropped at court.

She had flown from Singapore to Christchurch on June 15 when she was caught with $1.2 million worth of the class A drug.

She was looking unwell and Customs officers found 99 heroin pellets, totalling 1.2kg, concealed in her luggage, and on and inside her body.

Surgery was required to remove one pellet due to fears it could kill her.

The woman, a bar worker, was facing charges of possession of heroin for supply and importing a class A drug.

But at Christchurch District Court today, the Crown dropped the possession charge and she admitted the importation count.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane said the bulk of the police summary of facts was accepted, but needed to be finalised.

Judge David Saunders agreed it should not yet be read out in court.

He remanded Cilliers in custody until August 20 for sentencing and called for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by probation.

Interim name suppression was originally requested by Customs while it carried out further investigations.

But neither Mr Ruane or Crown today asked for it to be continued and Judge Saunders allowed the order to lapse.

Earlier this year, Brazilian drug mule Joao Batista da Silveira was busted by Customs at Auckland International Airport trying to smuggle $3.5 million of cocaine into New Zealand.

He confessed to police, saying he was expected to be paid NZ$20,000 on his return to South America.

He was jailed for six years.

Three men he was supposed to meet in Christchurch have been arrested.

Thiago August de Oliveira, 31, charged with possession of cocaine for supply, will be sentenced on July 30.

Marcos Andre Barbosa, 35, has admitted a charge of possession for supply, but denied a charge of importing, while Josue Da Conceicao, 36, is in custody facing charges of importing and possession.

- Kurt Bayer of APNZ

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