Australian Federal Police say the 42-year-old woman was travelling from Canada with her son and had landed in the Sydney International Airport on Sunday when she was targeted for an examination.
The force says border officers found a white, powdery substance hidden in the lining of the woman’s three large suitcases.
It says testing indicated the luggage was holding about 12 kilograms of cocaine.
The AFP says the woman has been charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, and notes that the maximum penalty for the offence is life in prison.
The woman was to appear in court in Sydney on Monday.
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The force also says it is working with the Canadian Consulate and New South Wales Family and Community Services to determine how to best take care of the woman’s son until he can return to Canada.