Norrie Ross, law reporter
A 24-YEAR-OLD Melbourne woman is facing more than 10 years in an Indian jail after being charged with drug smuggling.
Kelly Rae Trueman, from North Ringwood, was arrested at Mumbai's international airport last week with a suitcase containing 5.6kg of cannabis.
Indian authorities said the cannabis was hidden in a secret compartment. It is believed the drugs could have a street value of up to $50,000.
Customs officials said that Ms Trueman admitted the possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the drugs.
They said she admitted she was trying to smuggle the drugs on an Austrian Airways flight from Chatrapati Shivaji airport to Vienna.
Ms Trueman is being held in Mumbai women's prison. Legal experts said it could take 18 months to two years for her to face court.
Earlier this week her mother, Robyn Trueman, flew to Mumbai to comfort her daughter.
It is believed that Ms Trueman's 19-year-old sister, Stacey, was also planning to fly to India after cancelling her wedding.
The family refused to comment to the Herald Sun yesterday.
A friend of Ms Trueman, who did not want to be named, said the family was shocked and devastated by her arrest.
Ms Trueman had been on an extended overseas trip for about a year and had travelled around the UK and Europe on an old bus before going to India.
"She was befriended by some guy not long ago, and he set her up to carry some drugs from Bombay (Mumbai) to Vienna, and she got caught," the friend said. "I think she might have been the mule."
Asked if Ms Trueman had been aware of recent drug cases involving Schapelle Corby and Australian drug mules, the friend said: "Yes, and I'd like to slap her."
In a statement, the Indian Customs Service said its Air Intelligence Unit became suspicious of Ms Trueman as she tried to board her flight.
They examined her checked-in suitcase and found a dark-brown-coloured substance concealed in a false bottom.
Ms Trueman was described by her friend as "a bit of a rebel who got into trouble when she was a young teenager".
She has a number of piercings on her face and was a "bit of a hippy".
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed they were assisting Ms Trueman and her family.
"We can confirm a Victorian woman has been arrested in Mumbai and is being investigated for alleged drug offences," the spokeswoman said.
© Herald and Weekly Times