ACCUSED drug mule Cassie Sainsbury wants Australian taxpayers to fund her legal battle to beat serious cocaine smuggling charges.
Ms Sainsbury has requested federal government help in preparing her defence, her lawyer in Bogota, Orlando Herran, told The Daily Telegraph.
Ms Sainsbury was allegedly found with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine in her suitcase at El Dorado Airport. She insists she was tricked into carrying the drugs, claiming she believed they were headphones wrapped in plastic.
Her Colombia-based lawyer Orlando Herran told News Corp he had no idea how much his client was seeking from the Australian government, but said he would “possibly” receive some of the money himself.
Ms Sainsbury’s fiance and family insist the one-time fitness trainer is innocent, and was tricked into carrying the drugs by a mystery man who befriended her after she arrived in Colombia.
Authorities last week revealed they had been watching Ms Sainsbury since her arrival in the country, however.
‘NO WAY SHE DIDN’T KNOW’
A young convicted drug mule who spent four years in the El Buen Pastor prison, where Ms Sainsbury is being held, said she was lured by a Colombian man into smuggling cocaine, but insisted there was no way the Australian woman didn’t know what was in her suitcase.
“Everyone knows what is in their suitcase. I don’t believe you couldn’t know,” Wanda Genao told Nine News, saying Ms Sainsbury had a hard road ahead of her.
“The loneliness, the humiliation. You sometimes go to bed hungry, and you miss your family every day,” she said.
“Freedom has no price. If you’re thinking about it, don’t do it.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
‘THE PROFITS ARE MIND BLOWING’
Australia has joined a unique multinational taskforce to tackle the growing problem of illicit drugs being exported from South American countries including Colombia.
Paramilitary police, army and navy officers from Australia, Europe and America are working with Colombian authorities to target international drug cartels, News Corp reported on Sunday.
The Australian Federal Police has two officers based in the Colombian capital of Bogota working with international police agencies and liaising with authorities across South America.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan is understood to be planning to visit South America later this year to discuss ways to stop drugs flowing into Australia.
Mr Keenan said Australia had boosted its co-operation with Colombia to help tackle the manufacture and movement of cocaine.
“A rapid increase in the cultivation and production of cocaine in Colombia coupled with the huge price drug peddlers can get for cocaine in Australia is a concern that is being targeted by our law enforcement agencies,” he told AAP.
The AFP has since last December stopped a record 2.5 tonnes of cocaine being distributed in Australia and arrested 21 men as a result of international joint operations.
The AFP’s head of the Americas Grant Edwards said authorities couldn’t rely on drug seizures alone to stop illicit substances ending up in the hands of Australians.
“You can’t seize your way out of this, it’s got to be a whole process … wherever there is demand there is supply,” he told News Corp.
“You can buy kilo of cocaine in South America for $2500 and sell it in Australia for $US180,000, so it’s mind-blowing the profits that can be made.”
An AFP spokesman said the agency had arrangements with the Colombian National Police to exchange intelligence and target various types of criminal activities.
“Organised criminal networks use the South Pacific as a transit route and staging area for their activities, including the transportation of cocaine shipments from Latin America bound for Australia,” the spokesman said.
Colombian authorities claim Sainsbury was being used as a drug mule, but the Adelaide woman says she was tricked into carrying the 18 parcels of cocaine and that she believed the packages were headphones she had bought as gifts.
Online Source: news.com.au