Elderly Swedish man attempts to smuggle 3kg of heroin into Thailand

An elderly Swedish man who was arrested at an airport in Zimbabwe with 3 kilogrammes of heroin bound for Thailand earlier this month appeared in court yesterday.

On April 8, detectives from Zimbabwe’s CID Drugs and Narcotics Harare received information that 71 year old Hans Arne Ingemar Pettersson was in possession of drugs that he intended to smuggle to Thailand on a Qatar Airways flight.

Detectives headed to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare where they found Pettersson in the departures hall. They identified him by his clothes and passport. Pettersson was pushing a trolley carrying two bags, a pink one and a black one.

Officials searched the bags to find brown powder – suspected to be dangerous drugs – inside a plastic bag stashed in a secret compartment inside the pink bag. The plastic bag was tested and found to contain 3 kilogrammes of heroin with a street value of US$3.4 million (117 million baht) in Zimbabwe.

Pettersson was arrested and detained under charges of unlawful dealing in dangerous drugs. He was remanded in custody and asked to request bail from the High Court, which was rejected.

Yesterday, the drug mule appeared before regional magistrate Stanford Mambanje, who postponed his trial to May 15.

The trial was delayed after Pettersson told the court that he cannot speak or understand English and needed an interpreter according to his rights.

In January, Thai authorities seized 30 kilogrammes of heroin hidden in puppy pads, believed to be headed to Hong Kong. Police arrested a Hong Konger and a Thai national.

The Hong Konger told police there were more drugs at a second property, where police found a further 14 kilogrammes of heroin and 21 grammes of “Ice,” or methamphetamine. The drugs had a collective value of 30 million baht.

In May later year, three women were arrested in Itarsi in India with 87.8 million baht worth of heroin which they had smuggled into the country on a commercial flight from Thailand.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.