The infamous Australian drug smuggler known as ‘Cocaine Cassie’ was released from a Colombian prison after spending three years behind bars. The former inmate, whose real name is Cassie Sainsbury had been incarcerated at El Buen Pastor Women’s prison after she was found guilty of attempting to smuggle 6kg of cocaine out of Colombia in April 2017. She had attempted to smuggle out the drug by stuffing it into 18 headphone cases.

Prior to her conviction, she was a personal trainer from Adelaide who was under financial problems with her business. Sainsbury Lawyer Orlando Herran claims that her itinerary had changed last minute before Cassie had met a mystery man who showed her pictures of her family and former fiancé and then threatened to cause them harm at the alleged time. According to the Lawyer, the mystery man had said “If you don’t get to fly, we will be threatening or killing your family or you”


The former inmate was released on parole after the President of Columbia, Ivan Duque signed a decree for the immediate release of about 4,000 prisoners due to the concerns of COVID-19 in the overcrowding prisons. This pattern of behaviour has been dealt with in other nations due to the pandemic, including Australia. As part of her parole conditions, she must remain within Colombia for another 27 months.

Cassey said in her interview with 60 minutes that she “grew as a person” and that “I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about people, I’ve learned how to analyse people better”


The importation of border-controlled drugs is a federal offence under, Schedule 1, Regulation 307 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). Importing or exporting a border-controlled drug is a Commonwealth offence and the penalties that can be imposed are harsh with the majority of offenders sentenced to imprisonment. To find out more, please click here. Alternatively, contact us now for a free consultation.


The term “import” is defined in the Criminal Code as importing a substance into Australia and includes bringing the substance into Australia; and dealing with the substance in connection with its importation.  This is a new definition and was inserted into the Commonwealth Criminal Code in January 2011 following the decision of Campbell v Regina (2008) 73 NSWLR 272.

Regulation 307.3 states:

“A person commits an offence if: (a) the person imports or exports a substance; and (b) the substance is a border-controlled drug or border-controlled plant.”

Regulation 307.2 uses the same wording as above but provides for the aggravated offence of importing or exporting a marketable quantity of that drug or plant.

Regulation 307.1 provides for the aggravated offence of importing or exporting a commercial quantity of that drug or plant.


Drug importation/exportation offence is a criminal offence. This means that the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Drug importation/exportation.

To establish Drug importation/exportation, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  1. The substance imported is a border-controlled drug, and the person was reckless as to that fact;
  1. The quantity was above the commercial or marketable quantity, as the case may be; and
  1. That a person imported a substance into Australia, and imported that substance intentionally


National Criminal Lawyers are one of the best Drug Lawyers Sydney and greater Sydney have to offer. We have been successful in defending a number of Drug importation/exportation charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Drug importation/exportation.

Click here to read our most updated stories regarding drug importation.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with Drug importation/exportation;

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.


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