An 82-year-old Greek Australian grandmother has been charged with smuggling cocaine after South Australia police raided her on Wednesday.
Evdocia ‘Effie’ Pehlivanidis, a grandmother of six, was charged with allegedly importing $3.2 million worth of cocaine alongside her 30-year-old grandson Kostas Pehlivanidis, 30, who lives with her in Adelaide.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, police will allege Pehlivanidis – who is described by neighbors as a “lovely lady who loves to sew” – was part of a drug syndicate who were attempting to import at least 8kg of cocaine.
Pehlivanidis insists on her innocence and says she “has no idea” why she was arrested and that she has “never touched drugs… never even touched a cigarette”.
Greek Australian grandmother to appear in court over cocaine
She said police found a box at her home allegedly containing illegal drugs but she “didn’t know” why it was there.
“It was just a box with sticks inside, I don’t know,” the Greek-born grandmother said. “I don’t know [if it was dropped] by the post office man or a different man”, she added.
Phelivanidis and her grandson, who lives with her, will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court in April.
Friends added to Channel 7 that Phelivanidis was a “really lovely lady” and was suffering from memory and health problems after the death of her 85-year-old husband – also known as Kostas – four years ago.
“We’re all shocked. When I heard the news I thought ‘no way, not Effie’ I would not have thought she knew what it was,’ said one neighbor.
Special Tasks and Rescue Group officers raided the sandstone home on Wednesday and walked Kostas out in cuffs.
In South Australia, the maximum penalty if found guilty of trafficking in a large commercial quantity of a controlled drug, such as cocaine, is life imprisonment, a $1m fine or both, the Daily Mail reports.