‘Queen of Richmond’ jailed for flight attendant heroin smuggling syndicate

Packages of heroin were found inside the bra and undies of Malindo Air flight attendants, with one previously jailed for her role in Michelle Tran’s heroin-trafficking syndicate. Credit: Supplied, Australian Border Force

A heroin trafficking boss who smuggled drugs into Australia by getting flight attendants to hide packages in their knickers has been sentenced. Read at Perth Now

Michelle Tran was sentenced in the County Court of Victoria on Thursday to spend 18 years in prison with 13 years non-parole.

Judge Michael Cahill said the 49-year-old directed and supervised a “highly sophisticated, international drug consortium”.

She caused “great harm” to the community when she caused millions of dollars of high-grade heroin to hit Australia’s streets.

The heroin was smuggled into the country inside the underwear of flight attendants coming in from Malaysia.

One kilogram “tickets” were split into three packages that were hidden inside the bra and knickers of Malindo Air cabin crew members.

Police charged Tran — along with other members of the operation — for the period between October 2 and December 25, 2018.

During that three-month period she arranged for heroin with a street value of between $3.5 million and $5 million to be imported into the country, Judge Cahill said.

She boasted her heroin was “the highest purity available in Australia”, he said.

Tran used her connections to source the heroin from a man in Asia known as “Mr Hanoi”, and link it up with buyers on the Australian side.

Judge Cahill said Tran kept herself at a distance from the buying and selling, preferring to send her underlings — who she called her “soldiers” — to meet couriers and exchange the drugs for cash.

But she was the one calling the shots, using six different phones to organise the syndicate with members on two continents.

She pleaded guilty to one count of importing heroin and one count of trafficking heroin.

Zailee Zainal, one of the flight attendants who smuggled the heroin into Australia inside her bra and undies, was previously sentenced to nine years and six months’ prison with four years and nine months’ non-parole.

Michelle Tran’s right-hand woman Lina Tran was sentenced to 10 years and six months’ jail with seven years’ non-parole.

The successful businessman Beng Goh who picked up the heroin in Australia and exchanged it with buyers before taking the money back to Malaysia was sentenced to six years behind bars with three non-parole.

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