Elderly tricked into smuggling drugs - Customs

Dozens of elderly have received warnings from Customs (Getty)
Dozens of elderly have received warnings from Customs (Getty)

There's been a surge in senior citizens being tricked into acting as drug couriers, according to the Government.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says three over-65s have been caught bringing controlled drugs into the country in the last 15 months, and many more have been spared through early intervention.

"Drug syndicates may approach people online to recruit them to become drug couriers, either knowingly or unknowingly," says Ms Wagner.

"They're then provided tickets to travel and collect drugs to take to a final destination… If you or someone you know has travel plans that sound too good to be true, they probably are."

Dozens more have received warnings from Customs that they're at risk, which Age Concern's chief executive Simon Templeton says is troubling.

"We suggest that people, when they get called by or messaged by anyone they don't know overseas, that they talk about it with their families."

Mr Templeton says family members need to keep an eye on their relatives to stop them falling victim to drug plots.

"A trip out of the blue or something that someone wouldn't normally do - these are some of the warning bells people might want to look out for.

"We know they are often the target of all sorts of scams, and this one has particularly dire consequences if they do get involved with it."

Customs can't stop otherwise law-abiding people from leaving the country, but does warn those it sees as being at risk.

"Drug syndicates don't care about the welfare or wellbeing of drug couriers, who end up bearing the full-brunt of the law, whichever country they are caught in," says Ms Wagner.

"The consequence is never worth the risk - border and enforcement agencies will act according to their laws."

She says Customs is often able to save people from falling prey to syndicates based on information provided by family and friends on 0800 4 CUSTOMS.