Drug mule dies after package bursts

Sorlinda Arirtizabal Vega, 37 of Colombia pictured at Auckland International Airport, had more than two dozen 20-gram packages of what is believed to be cocaine inside her body. Photo / Supplied
Sorlinda Arirtizabal Vega, 37 of Colombia pictured at Auckland International Airport, had more than two dozen 20-gram packages of what is believed to be cocaine inside her body. Photo / Supplied

A Colombian woman has died while trying to bring what's thought to be $175,000 worth of cocaine into the country.

37-year-old Sorlinda Arirtizabal Vega and other family members arrived from Buenos Aires on Tuesday morning.

At 6am on Wednesday morning she was taken to Auckland Hospital where she died a short time later.

A post-mortem examination has shown the woman was carrying at least 26 condom-like packages containing what is believed to be cocaine.

Police say at least one of the packages had burst.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard says they're having language difficulties as they interview the woman's family.

"Essentially we're trying to establish whether there are any links between this woman, her family and organised crime in New Zealand,'' he told Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams.

Detective Inspector Beard admits she got through systems in place at the airport.

"We don't know how many people have come in previously, we know this year this is the first time a person has been found to be carrying or smuggling cocaine into New Zealand inside their body.''

He says there are always serious risks to health when smuggling drugs internally and this woman has paid with her life.

Her death has been referred to the coroner.

- Newstalk ZB

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