Qantas Baggage Handler Arrested at Sydney Airport in Cocaine Smuggling Case

Continued shakedown occurs as investigation follows claims that baggage handlers were running a smuggling operation


SYDNEY, Australia -- Police arrested a Qantas baggage handler Thursday and charged him with involvement in a cocaine smuggling operation at Sydney Airport.

New South Wales state Drug Squad Commander Detective Superintendent David Laidlaw said the 40-year-old baggage handler, whose name was not released, was arrested while at work at the Qantas domestic terminal.

Police charged him with being an accessory after the fact in a plot to supply a commercial quantity of the drug.

Detectives say he tried to locate a friend's bag which contained 60,000 Australian dollars (US$46,040; EUR 37,358) worth of cocaine, after hearing drug squad officers had seized the bag in February this year.

The arrest came two days after the government announced a major review of airport security, following a string of allegations that baggage handlers were involved in drug trafficking.

The man alleged to have owned the bag, Kyran Frederick Terry, appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court on Thursday charged with possession and supply of cocaine. He was not required to enter a plea.

The issue of airport security has been under intense scrutiny in Australia in recent weeks after Schapelle Corby, a beauty school student arrested for marijuana smuggling on the Indonesian island of Bali last year, claimed the drugs Indonesian officials found in her surfboard bag were planted there by airport staff in Australia.

A court in Bali rejected Corby's defense and sentenced her to 20 years in a case that sparked a strong anti-Indonesia backlash among her Australian supporters.