NEWS
28/05/2012 05:24 BST | Updated 28/05/2012 10:37 BST

Brit Lindsay Sandiford Arrested In Bali For Smuggling £1.6m Of Cocaine

A British woman has been arrested for smuggling cocaine worth £1.6 million into the tropical island of Bali.

Lindsay Sandiford covered her face as she was brought out to face the media at a press conference in Kuta, a holiday town on the Indonesian island.

The 56-year-old was pictured sat at a table surrounded by packages wrapped up in brown tape as a customs official cut them open with a knife.

Wearing an orange inmate's T-shirt, she was also photographed flanked by armed officers wearing black masks.

Sandiford was stopped with the 4.7kg haul in a suitcase as she arrived in Bali on a flight from Bangkok in Thailand on May 19, according to customs official Made Wijaya.

A customs official told the Jakarta Post “We first spotted the cocaine through routine X-Ray scanning."

Three other Britons and an Indian national were believed to be the intended recipients and are being questioned.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws and convicted smugglers are executed. More than 140 people are on death row, a third of them foreigners.

The drugs were found hidden in the lining of a suitcase she was carrying, officials said.

Sandiford told police she only agreed to make the trip because her children in England were being threatened, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP) news agency.

Sandiford, who is listed on immigration documentation as a housewife, agreed to co-operate with police to catch the other people in the gang, AAP said.

Two days after her arrest she was contacted by a second British woman, identified by the initials RLD, at which point a meeting was arranged.

A sting operation was organised, and police arrested the other four people allegedly involved in the drug smuggling ring.

The head of Bali's drugs squad said the two British men, identified by the initials BP and JAP, were believed to be senior figures in a major drug-smuggling syndicate.

"It's an international network controlled from abroad," Mulyadi, who goes by one name, said.

Mr Wijaya said Sandiford was likely to face charges that would carry a death penalty.

"After weighing, the total cocaine is 4.791kg," he said, adding that the drugs were estimated to have a street value of RP23.9 billion (£1.6m).

"This is a big international network," Mr Wijaya said.

"The charge against them would carry the death penalty."

Another 68g of cocaine, 280g of powdered ecstasy and a small amount of hashish were also recovered following the arrest of the other gang members at separate locations in Bali, officials said.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We're aware of the arrest of a British national in Bali. We stand ready to provide consular assistance."

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