Drug mule's lover arrested in Peru

ARRESTED: Sydney Cilliers faces drugs charges in South America.
ARRESTED: Sydney Cilliers faces drugs charges in South America.

The husband of a South African drug mule to be sentenced in Christchurch today is facing his own smuggling charges on the other side of the world.

Sydney Harold Cilliers, 32, the husband of Laura Elizabeth Cilliers, is in custody in Peru, South America, South Africa's Middelburg Observer has reported.

He was arrested in Lima in May, the month before his wife was arrested at Christchurch Airport.

Peru police stopped Sydney Cilliers at a Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao pretending he was to travel to Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

His luggage was searched, and they found cocaine in a suitcase he had checked in, a May 19 statement from the police drug enforcement team said.

Laura Cilliers, a 32-year-old bar worker, had flown from Singapore with 99 heroin pellets, worth $1.2 million, hidden in her luggage and inside her body.

The capsules, about three centimetres long, were triple-wrapped. She had swallowed them.

She was stopped by Customs officials looking unwell, with a heavily swollen stomach, on June 15.

Customs found pellets on her and she told them she had more in her body.

She needed immediate medical care and spent the next 13 days in Christchurch Hospital while the pellets were expelled from her body.

One pellet had to be surgically removed.

Laura Cilliers will be sentenced in the Christchurch District Court today after pleading guilty to importing the class A drug. She is likely to receive a jail term.

She and Sydney Cilliers married in Middelburg, which is north of Port Elizabeth, in December, the Middelburg Observer reported.

They were kicked out of their accommodation in the town after they, and a third person, were caught with cannabis.

All three appeared in a magistrate's court the next day, but Laura Cilliers skipped bail and a warrant for her arrest was issued, it was earlier reported.

She was on the run when she she arrived in Christchurch.

Sydney Cilliers was being held in harsh conditions in jail, the Middelburg Observer reported.

The circumstances of his arrest were "vague", but he faced anywhere from six to 15 years in prison, it said.

According to someone known to the couple, Laura and Sydney Cilliers had a "vagrant existence" and relied on public "handouts", it said.

Laura Cilliers is expected to be deported back to South Africa once she finishes her sentence.

The Press understands she was offered money to smuggle the heroin.

National Drug Intelligence Bureau co-ordinator Detective Inspector Stuart Mills said earlier that traffickers might only be paid a few thousand dollars to smuggle drugs.

DRUG MULE: South African Laura Cilliers admitted importing heroin.
DRUG MULE: South African Laura Cilliers admitted importing heroin.

Mules usually had only limited knowledge who they are doing it for, Mills said. 

The Press