Eight plastic-wrapped pills were found in the woman's underwear after a body search by police. She was then taken into custody. After questioning the woman admitted she had ingested 78 bags or 348g heroin, up to 1,700 times the lethal dose.

Doctors who examined her at hospital confirmed the truth of the woman's story after X-rays were taken of her stomach, reported the China News Service. Police were alerted and became suspicious of the woman who was behaving "erratically" during a security check at Turpan train station.

She was travelling to Shihezi - a factory city of 640,000 people in the north of the region – called Xinjiang. The area is one of the most poverty-stricken regions in China and described by State newspaper China Daily as a "drugs trafficking hub".

Xinjiang borders the 'Golden Crescent', an area located between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran known as the centre of opium production by international drug organisations.

The number of drug-related cases that courts in the region have dealt with has increased in recent years, said Yu Huitang, the spokesman for Xinjiang High People's Court in a China Daily report. Over 1,400 drugs-related cases were heard in courts here during 2014, with over 1,252 people convicted. In addition, 337 people were sentenced, with punishment ranging from five years in prison to the death penalty.

An undercover police operation last year in Hami prefecture led to the arrest of eight suspected drug dealers. These included a man who was caught smuggling heroin in his foreskin. He was apprehended by police on a train from Beijing to Tibet. They asked the man to take a urine test, which proved positive for morphine. The suspect confessed to carrying narcotics and produced a small plastic wrap from his foreskin, which contained a tenth of a gram of heroin.