Flight Attendants Ran Million-dollar Heroin Smuggling Operation, Police Say

A Malindo Airlines Boeing 737. Flight staff on the airline are accused of running a drug-smuggling operation worth millions. BIKASH KARKI/AFP/Getty Images

Cabin crew workers on an international airline were allegedly part of an elaborate drug smuggling operation that netted a crime syndicate millions of dollars.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested eight people in the past 10 days, alleging they brought $15 million worth of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine into the country.

Read more: An airline passenger tried to smuggle a snake onto a plane by hiding it in his pants

A flight attendant with Malindo Air was among those arrested, ABC News reported.

Police say that crew for the Malaysia-based carrier, a subsidiary of Indonesia's Lion Air, helped smuggle drugs on the bodies of the flight attendants for a Vietnamese crime syndicate in Melbourne.

The syndicate had been operating across the country for more than five years, importing high-grade heroin and methamphetamine from Malaysia, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Tess Walsh said.

Following a six-month investigation labeled "Operation Sunrise," police seized 17 pounds of heroin with a street value of $10.5 million.

Raids on properties in and around Melbourne also yielded another 13 pounds of meth worth $4.6 million, one pound of cocaine and cars including a Porsche, as well as cash.

Four men and four women, aged between 26 and 48, were charged with drug trafficking offenses. Their nationalities have not been revealed.

The police regional commander for Victoria, Craig Palmer, said (via CNN): "They are subject to intervention at the border like everyone else and face significant penalties if they are found to be using their positions to attempt to circumvent our border controls."

In a statement, the airline said it was working with the Malaysian consulate in Melbourne and considered the incident an isolated one.

"Malindo Air stands ready to co-operate with all the relevant authorities, be it in Australia or in Malaysia, in this regard."

Airline spokeswoman Andrea Liong said that the accused crew member "has also been suspended with immediate effect pending termination," it added and the airline was "not aware that ... another crew [member] from Malindo Air is involved," CNN reported.

Last June, a Malaysian Airlines cabin crew member was arrested at Melbourne airport for allegedly trying to smuggle seven pounds of heroin worth $1 million in his luggage. The 33-year-old Malaysian man faces charges, The Straits Times reported.