20 Apr 2011

Former public servant caught with cocaine at airport

9:46 pm on 20 April 2011

Former Maori Language Commission deputy chief executive Sharon Armstrong has been detained in Argentina after trying to board a plane with a suitcase containing 5kg of cocaine.

Her family says she appears to have been the victim of an internet scam.

A cousin, Kapoi Mathieson, says Ms Armstrong was on the way to London to meet a man she had been internet dating for about a month.

Ms Mathieson says the man paid for her cousin to divert to Buenos Aires and pick up some paperwork for him.

When Ms Armstrong was detained, she was carrying a suitcase which contained 5kg of cocaine.

Ms Mathieson says Interpol is searching for the man and the family has forwarded all the details they have about the contact between the pair.

She says her cousin is an intelligent, caring woman who has fallen victim to a scam.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed its embassy in Buenos Aires is providing consular assistance to a New Zealander arrested last week.