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Sentencing postponed as cocaine-smuggling sailboat captain undergoes surgery

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Australian police arrest Malaysian flight attendants accused of helping drugs gang smuggle heroin and crystal meth

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Australian police arrest Malaysian flight attendants

Two flight attendants working for Malaysian airline Malindo Air were among eight people arrested by police in Australia over the past two weeks during an investigation into an organised crime network suspected to be behind the importation of heroin and methamphetamine worth an estimated A$20 million ($14.35 million) into the country.

The two cabin crew members are suspected of having links to a Melbourne-based Vietnamese gang involved in the importation of high-purity heroin and methamphetamine into Australia from Malaysia.

In a series of raids on a number of properties in Melbourne that resulted in the arrest of the suspects, investigators from a coalition of Australian law enforcement agencies seized 6kgs of high-grade heroin with an estimated street value of A$14.5 million, and 8kgs of methamphetamine with a street value of $6.4 million.

Police also confiscated 0.5kgs of cocaine, assorted drug paraphernalia, a large quantity of cash, and a number of cars, including a Porsche Macan.

Six of the suspects were remanded into custody after appearing before Melbourne Magistrates Court, where they were charged with a multiple offences including importing a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs, and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Malindo Air, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Lion Air, said it had suspended one of the cabin crew members with immediate effect pending termination.

In a statement, the company said: “Malindo Air stands ready to co-operate with all the relevant authorities be it in Australia or in Malaysia in this regard…

“As a responsible international air carrier, Malindo Air does not condone any act that is criminal in nature or misconduct by our personnel.”

Congratulating the officers who took part in the operation, Victoria Police Crime Command Assistant Commissioner Tess Walsh said its success sent a strong message that Australian law enforcement agencies remain focused on disrupting major drug trafficking conspiracies.

“This was a well organised syndicate we know had operated across Australia undetected for many years,” she said.

“To be in a position to make these arrests and dismantle this group is a significant win for both police and the Victorian community.

“The amount of heroin alone involved in this investigation amounts to almost fifty thousand hits in real terms.

“We know the harm that drugs bring – not just the physical and health impacts on users, but the negative flow on effects to the broader community such as property crime, assaults and drug driving.”

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Trudeau slams death sentence for Canadian man convicted of smuggling methamphetamine in China

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sentencing to death of Canadian man

A Canadian national has been sentenced to death in China after being convicted of plotting to smuggle a large quantity of methamphetamine out of the country.

In a development that has led to a further souring of relations between the two countries, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg on Monday fell afoul of China’s super-strict drugs laws when an appeal court ruled that his original 15-year jail sentence had been too lenient, and that he must now be put to death.

The Canadian national, who is thought to be aged 36, was arrested in 2014 on suspicion of plotting to smuggle nearly 227kgs of methamphetamine from China to Australia.

Prosecutors argued that Schellenberg and an accomplice bought tyres to use to repackage the drugs before shipping them out of the country in containers.

Schellenberg’s new sentence comes after Ottawa and Beijing came to blows when Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, at the beginning of December.

Meng is currently fighting extradition to the US in relation to allegations that she violated sanctions on Iran.

Following her detention, Canadian nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in China on suspicion of endangering national security, prompting concerns that Beijing might be using its legal system to bargain for Meng’s release.

Commenting on the new sentence handed down to Schellenberg, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all countries should be concerned about the manner in which China is behaving, adding: “It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian.”

Schellenberg now has 10 days in which to appeal his sentence.

Reports relating to his case started to appear in Chinese media following Meng’s arrest, leading to his original sentence being upgraded on the grounds that it was not severe enough.

While the court said the new sentence could not be commuted, commentators have suggested that Schellenberg will now be used as bargaining chip as the Chinese government negotiates to secure Meng’s freedom.

In a travel warning issued in response to the appeal court’s decision, the Canadian foreign ministry cautioned its citizens in China over “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.

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British jail inmates smoking dressing gowns soaked in synthetic cannabinoid Spice, prison chief warns

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dressing gowns soaked in synthetic cannabinoid Spice

Prisoners in UK jails are smoking dressing gowns soaked in synthetic cannabinoid Spice, the Governor of HMP Leeds has told the BBC.

Speaking with Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, Steve Robson said visitors had been passing prisoners items of clothing impregnated with substances such as Spice, which inmates then cut up into sections to be smoked.

Robson said one dressing gown that was being passed around convicts was found to have been soaked in new psychoactive substances after it was seized by prison officers.

He added that all clothing provided by visitors is now swabbed before being handed to inmates, and that officers examine what new prisoners are wearing when they arrive at the jail.

Inmates in UK prions have for some time now been coming up with ever more ingenuous ways of getting drugs such as Spice behind bars, where they can fetch as many as ten times their street value.

British prison authorities have discovered letters and books that have been soaked in new psychoactive substances sent to inmates, and dead birds with Spice sewed into their bodies thrown over jail walls.

Demand for Spice has now become so high among inmates that a tiny square inch of paper soaked in the drug can now be sold for £100 behind bars, when a similar amount of money used to secure a whole A4 sheet impregnated with the substance.

So much money can now be made from the trade in drugs and other illicit items in British jails that organised crime gangs are thought to be encouraging their associates to secure prison service jobs in order to smuggle contraband behind bars.

Speaking separately with the BBC last week, a senior British police officer said he has “strong suspicions” that organised criminal gang members are securing jobs in UK prisons.

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Hogg said he fears gangs are persuading their associates or family members to find work in the country’s jails.

“There are some examples of staff, very soon after they work in that prison estate, whether it’s as a prison officer or a maintenance worker, if you like, they move towards supplying contraband,” he said.

Hogg spoke out as it was reported that a woman from Rotherham had been jailed for three years after she was caught smuggling drugs into HMP Doncaster.

April Paget, 31, admitted smuggling class A drugs into the jail.

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