Two Australian children were left stranded in the United States after their mother was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle a smorgasbord of drugs into a US prison for her partner.
Leticia Verney, 41, was arrested on February 5 after a police dog allegedly alerted officers at Lewis Prison in Arizona about a package on her person.
Upon opening the package, officers allegedly found 200 fentanyl pills, seven grams of marijuana, and 28 grams of heroin and methamphetamine.
Verney is alleged to have traveled to the United States with two of his six children on holiday last year so he could see his partner he met online.
He is believed to be an inmate at Lewis Prison and was allegedly planned to be the recipient of the packages.
The children, ages seven and 12, have since been taken into the custody of Arizona Child Protective Services after their mother was remanded in custody facing 19 charges.
Perth mum Leticia Verney (pictured), 41, has been arrested in a US prison after allegedly trying to smuggle a package of drugs to her jailed partner.
Charges include eight counts of carrying contraband into a correctional facility, one count of transportation/sale of a dangerous drug and two counts of transportation/sale of narcotics.
Eight other federal charges will be presented to a grand jury.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry became aware of the alleged plot after discovering recordings “of his plans to bring drugs to Lewis prison visits.”
Upon arriving at the jail to meet her partner, Verney was taken to the Sheriff’s Office, where a police dog (K-9) alerted officers to the package.
The variety of drugs allegedly found on Verney “are worth thousands of dollars on the streets and potentially tens of thousands of dollars in custody,” according to Deputy Chief Russ Skinner.
“Without the K-9 alert, there would have been a strong likelihood that these drugs would have found their way into our jails, impacting the safety of inmates and our staff in potentially deadly ways.”
The father of the two children, Daniel Smith, was hoping for the trio to return home after their trip in December and is now in a race against time to get his children back to Australia.
He has been in contact with U.S. officials who urged him to pick up his children as soon as possible before placing them in foster care.
“Apparently it’s much harder to get them back if they’re in care,” Mr. Smith told the Western Australia.
Officers at Lewis Prison in Arizona (pictured) were allegedly alerted to the package by a police dog and immediately arrested.
She was allegedly found with heroin (pictured), fentanyl, marijuana and methamphetamine and is now in custody facing 19 charges related to the alleged scheme.
The cost of flying her children around the world is daunting for Smith, who has been unable to work after recently undergoing back surgery.
“I’ve been digging deep to find the money to pay for an emergency passport and flights for both of us,” she said.
“The priority is to get them home right now, they have no family there and I don’t know who they will stay with.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed it is “providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian woman detained in Arizona.”
Verney is expected to appear in court for his arraignment on February 20, while his trial will begin on June 19.
She is also alleged to have brought her two children (pictured) to the US, who are now stranded in the country and at risk of being placed in foster care.