A woman in Sydney, Australia, has been found guilty of drug trafficking charges after attempting to use a “gambling debt” defense to prove her innocence, according to reports from Australian Associated Press.
The sign outside the Supreme Court of Queensland. A woman who tried to import illegal drugs she claimed was to pay off a gambling debt will head to prison following her appearance in court. (Image: The Guardian)
Thi Phuong Mai Nguyen, 51, was accused of attempting to import 771 pounds of MDMA, the primary ingredient in ecstasy. She was reportedly the go-between for a criminal organization in the Netherlands and another in Australia.
Nguyen pleaded not guilty to the drug charges and argued she was forced to move illicit drugs to pay off the gambling debts of someone in her family. She asserted that she faced threats of armed violence from loan sharks.
As a result, she had only two choices – become a drug smuggler, or die along with her family.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours before they found Nguyen guilty. Justice David Boddice called her a liar and a “devious” con woman who knew exactly what she was doing the entire time. He added that she showed no remorse for her actions and only saw greed.
Boddice handed down a 12-year prison sentence. She won’t be eligible for parole until she’s served eight and a half years.
The Case of the Conniving Drug Lord
Prosecutors alleged that Nguyen was actually a savvy up-and-coming drug lord. Investigators recorded her making a deal to buy as much as AU$1.1 million (US$751,080) of MDMA. She negotiated the price with the seller multiple times but ultimately backed out of the purchase.
She later called off the deal, but prosecutors said that the recordings, which included voice and text messages, proved she had tried to work out a way to receive the goods without paying the money.
If Nguyen had successfully imported the MDMA, it could have netted over AU$9 million (US$6.14 million). That’s the value of only the ingredient, not the cost of the ecstasy on the open market.
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