Brit Woman Held Over £1.6m Bali Drugs Haul

A 55-year-old British woman has been arrested in Bali for allegedly smuggling £1.6m worth of cocaine in her luggage.

Housewife Lindsay Sandiford was stopped with the 4.7kg haul in the lining of a suitcase as she arrived on a flight from Bangkok on May 19, customs officials said.

If convicted she faces a maximum penalty of death by firing squad.

Sandiford, who is originally from Redcar, North Yorkshire, attempted to cover her face as she was brought before the media at a news conference in Kuta, a holiday town on the Indonesian island.

She was pictured sitting at a table surrounded by packages wrapped in brown tape as a customs official cut them open with a knife.

Wearing an orange inmate's T-shirt, she was flanked by armed officers wearing black masks.

According to the Australian Associated Press news agency, Sandiford has told police she only agreed to make the trip because her children in England were being threatened.

A sting operation was launched following her arrest leading to four more suspects being held.

"For over a week, we conducted a controlled drug delivery through the suspect, Sandiford, to uncover a drug ring," said a senior Bali narcotics officer.

"Four Britons, including Sandiford, and one Indian citizen were arrested."

A further 68g of cocaine, 280g of powdered ecstasy and a small amount of hashish were recovered following the arrest of the other alleged gang members, officials said.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are aware of the arrest in Bali, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance."

More than 140 people are on death row as a result of drug convictions in the country, and a third of those are foreigners.