Ex-CIA spy stunned by Aussie rookie undercover cop
Operation Carrier is one of the only times an undercover Australian police officer has acted as a drug courier smuggling drugs across international borders.
The sting took out drug smugglers in Australia, the principal heroin suppliers in Hong Kong and 55kg of heroin off the streets in both countries.
Zoe Jones, a young detective who grew up in rural NSW, had pulled off a major coup in the most dangerous of circumstances. She not only smuggled the heroin into the country, she also had to ward off sexual advances from one of the drug kingpins.
She was rewarded for her bravery with a Police Commissioner's commendation and has won admiration from around the world. She went on to a successful career in undercover work. She has since left the police.
Former Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) spy and author of the recent spy novel An Elephant on Your Nose, Warren Reed, said it was extremely rare for police or intelligence to be involved in actual international drug smuggling.
"I have never heard of something like this before," Reed told News Corp.
"To send someone with no training is very risky - there is great danger and anything could go wrong.
"It is not only dangerous for the undercover operative, but for the police force and the government. If something goes horribly wrong it could all blow back on the government.
"And to be confronted with sexual advances as well - the fact that she survived all this and pulled it off - wow is that testament to her skill!"
For former CIA operative, Bob Baer, who has worked undercover for the agency in war-torn Beirut and Sarajevo, the fact that the operation was pulled together at the last minute and successfully is extraordinary.
"It normally takes years and years to prepare an agent for something like this, which is not to mention maturity, courage, and sangfroid. Then of course making stuff up on the go," said Baer.
Former head of the NSW Police Undercover Police Unit Mick Drury said "It was a long way for a girl from the bush."
"The dedication of this young woman took my breath away."
Her boss at the time of the operation, Det Superintendent Ray Southwell, said he had total confidence that Zoe could pull it off.
"It was the way she handled situations, the way she could turn a conversation the way she needed to, and she could talk their language."
Southwell said she was natural at undercover work. But he admits from the moment she left the country he didn't sleep until she was home.