A 91-year-old Australian man has been charged with trafficking cocaine.
Victor Twartz, a retired oral surgeon, had just flown to Australia from New Delhi on July 8 when he was apprehended at the Sydney airport, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. He was allegedly carrying 27 bars of soap filled with 4.5 kilos of cocaine.
The 91-year-old’s son, Peter Twartz, told Australia’s ABC his father was duped by a trafficking scam and didn’t know the soap contained cocaine. Peter says the elder Twartz was in India to sign a business contract that he thought would free up over $10 million of inheritance. The soaps were said to be gifts for the bank manager working on the deal in Australia.
“I looked carefully what was in the soap,” Mr Twartz told the Herald. “I scraped it and it was certainly soap but there were these streaks of white stuff in between. I thought it was additional perfume or that was the style of Indian soap.”
However, Wayne Bucchorn, acting national manager for aviation for the Australian Federal Police (AFP), has suggested that Twartz’s age and ignorance were no excuses for his actions. “Claiming ignorance of drugs hidden inside your luggage does not automatically mean you will not face criminal charges,” Bucchorn said.
Twartz was granted bail on Tuesday morning, and is due to appear in court on October 6. Drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment in Australia, according to the Herald.