A Malaysian mother and daughter duo had spent 4 months in jail for importing 25kg of brown ginger tea that the aussie police thought was drugs.
According to Sydney Morning Herald, Connie Chong Vun Pui and her daughter Melanie Lim San Yan were only trying to import the brown ginger tea, which is a popular and traditional remedy for period pain in Malaysia, that is produced by Chinese brand Jiu Ji Gong (九吉公).
They plan to sell the tea at a net profit of AUD90 (RM270) for every 5 boxes, with each containing 24 individually wrapped packets of tea.
However, 2 of their shipments were being seized by the Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at Sydney Airport and they wrongly identify the tea as amphetamines.
The ABF officials the pinned down the brown sugar as an illegal drug called phenmetrazine. They then followed the shipment address and raided the duo’s suburb home in the south west of Sydney.
Both the mother and daughter were being charged with commercial drug supply, which carries a lifetime prison sentence, and were refused bail despite ongoing investigations.
However, the Sydney court heard the police knew within weeks that there was a problem with the drug identification, but they did not pass this information on to the women’s legal team, leaving them behind bars.
The Daily Mail reported that, in April, the ABF officer emailed Bankstown Detective Senior Constable Tara Conaghan to tell her that their laboratory results from the seizure had determined there were no prohibited substances.
“Mate, in a nutshell, we cannot take from this ABF result that the sample contains or does not contain phenmetrazine,” the email read, adding that the ABF’s test had only identified phenmetrazine as the fourth most likely substance contained in the seized products, after sugar, sucrose and powdered sugar.
Despite Conaghan asking for the forensic testing of the samples to be expedited under the state police, the officer could not explain why the mother and daughter were left in jail during the process.
Conaghan remained silent after Chong’s barrister Steve Boland questioned her about why the accused were left to sit in jail.
Both mother and daughter were finally released from jail in May, but the charges against them were not withdrawn until 10 August after New South Wales Police finally received their own forensic analysis results.
They are now suing for legal costs, which the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions refuses to pay.
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