New Zealand beekeeper was on customs radar before cocaine bust, court told

New Zealand beekeeper was on customs radar before cocaine bust, court told

New Zealand beekeeper was on customs radar before cocaine bust, court told

Updated 29 August 2017, 17:15 AEST

A 68-year-old beekeeper accused of smuggling 2 kilograms of cocaine into Western Australia had come to the attention of authorities before he flew out, a Perth court hears.

A 68-year-old beekeeper accused of smuggling cocaine into Western Australia had come to the attention of New Zealand authorities before he flew out, a Perth court has heard.

Roy Arbon, a New Zealand citizen, is accused of smuggling more than 2 kilograms of pure cocaine from Brazil to Perth in a suitcase in February last year.

Arbon has said he did not know the drugs were in the bag and claims he was duped by internet scammers who were drug traffickers.

The court heard Arbon initially came to the attention of New Zealand customs officers because his ticket showed unusual travel bookings.

The beekeeper was intending to fly to Australia, Brazil and India — with stops in Dubai and back to New Zealand — within the space of two weeks.

Customs officer Mary McEwan told the court she warned Arbon he could be asked to do something illegal.

She said Arbon responded "No, I know what I'm doing," and said he was going to India for a holiday.

Arbon was arrested when he arrived back in Perth, after spending a few days in Brazil.

Cocaine smuggled in a suitcase

An Australian Federal Police (AFP) interview was played in the court, in which Arbon said he had stayed at an apartment owned by a man named "Anthony" in Sao Paulo.

Another unknown man brought the suitcase to the apartment and Anthony told him he was to take it to India.

Arbon told the AFP officers there were clothes in the bag, and he had "pulled everything apart to make sure there's no drugs in it".

He did not go to India as planned because he did not have a certificate for yellow fever vaccination and instead flew back to Australia.

The cocaine was found concealed in the suitcase Arbon brought to Australia from Brazil.

The court heard Arbon had taken the trip at the request of a "Dr William Johnson", who was to give him a loan of more than $US100,000.

In the recorded interview, an AFP officer asked Arbon if he thought it was odd to undertake such a trip on Dr Johnson's orders and the accused man said, "No".

But he also told the police he had never done anything like it before.

The trial continues.