Australian heroin mule hospitalized in Vietnam after bag breaks

Hanoi  - An Australian woman of Vietnamese origin was in stable condition Friday at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City after a bag of heroin she was smuggling in her anus broke, according to a hospital official.

The 35-year-old woman was unconscious and had stopped breathing when she was admitted to Saigon General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday, according to Nguyen Van Xuyen, director of the hospital.

"We found two small plastic bags containing heroin in her anus and one of the bags had broken," Xuyen said. "This is the first case in which we have found heroin in a person's anus. We have treated people having swallowed heroin before."

Xuyen said the woman came to Vietnam to visit her relatives and was about to return to Australia when she was hospitalized.

"She was in critical condition when she arrived at the hospital, and she would have died if she had been admitted a few minutes later," Xuyen said. "She woke up yesterday and told us about the heroin."

Police are guarding the woman at the hospital and will arrest her after she is released, according to Xuyen. He said she is now in stable condition.

The city's anti-narcotics police did not respond to requests for comments.

In March, an appeals court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced an Australian woman of Vietnamese origin to death for trafficking heroin.

Jasmine Luong, 34, was arrested at the city's Tan Son Nhat Airport in February last year with 1.4 kilograms of heroin hidden in her luggage and shoes.

Trafficking or transporting 600 grams or more of heroin is punishable by death in Vietnam.

Several Vietnamese-Australians have been sentenced to death in recent years for drug crimes, but so far none has been executed and several have had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Vietnam has this year sentenced at least 22 people to death, including nine for drug crimes. (dpa)

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