Local News

Australian mother duped by an online romance into smuggling drugs has escaped the death penalty

The kilogram of meth stitched into the lining was only discovered because Maria Exposto went through immigration unnecessarily.

By Kate Wagner
An Australian mother has escaped the death penalty in the notoriously "tough on drugs" Malaysia after she was found not guilty of drug trafficking.
Maria Exposto was found to be duped into smuggling drugs through Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 2014.
Ms Exposto had fallen in love with a man who went by the pseudonym "Captain Daniel Smith" and claimed to be in the US Special Forces. The online boyfriend had given her a bag to travel with and custom officers found 1.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the lining.
The judge determined the mother-of-four had genuinely fallen in love with the man who groomed her over two years before flying her to Shanghai and giving her the bag to return to Australia with.
Ms Exposto did not know the drugs were in the bag, offering her bag to be scanned through an airport X-ray machine voluntarily.
"The court believes the testimony of Maria in that she was an innocent carrier," Ms Exposto's lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah said.
"She was tricked into carrying the bag because of what we now call the internet scam, internet romance.
"She did not have to go through the immigration but she followed everybody and she went through the immigration — bearing in mind she was only a transit passenger."
However, Ms Exposto will not be able to return to Australia until prosecutors lodge an appeal against the verdict.
If the mum had been convicted, she would have been sentenced to death.
Malaysian MPs have voted to end the compulsory death penalty for drug trafficking offences but the country is yet to enact the changes.