Drug traffickers targeting Australia

2013-05-20 13:00
Australian Federal Police officers with methamphetamine found in February this year in a shipment of cleaning chemicals, with an estimated street value of around $446m. (Australian Federal Police/ AFP)

Australian Federal Police officers with methamphetamine found in February this year in a shipment of cleaning chemicals, with an estimated street value of around $446m. (Australian Federal Police/ AFP)

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Sydney - Australia seized a record 23 tons of illicit drugs in 2011-2012 with arrests at a 10-year high, data showed on Monday, as officials warned the country had become a key target for traffickers.

The annual Australian Crime Commission report showed the amount caught was up 154% on the previous year, boosted by a single 11 tonne bust of hypophosphorous acid in New South Wales state.

The substance is used in the manufacture of methylamphetamine and had the potential to produce 6.5 tons of the drug, with an estimated street value of $3.7bn.

The report said authorities made more than 93 000 arrests in the year - the highest in a decade, while a record 809 undercover drug labs were dismantled across the country.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said Australia's wealth meant traffickers were pouring drugs into the country.

"We have intelligence and we are being targeted in this country," he told reporters.

Colombia predominant source

"The relative height of the Australian dollar, the relative wealth of this country compared to others at the moment means we are a target.

"But I think the higher rate of seizures we have actually made over the last 12 months shows enforcement is meeting that challenge head on."

The report showed Colombia was the predominant source of cocaine seized at Australia's border while Asia accounted for most of the heroin. While the amount of cocaine confiscated rose, heroin fell slightly.

Border seizures of performance-enhancing drugs and steroids were at record levels but cannabis continued to dominate, accounting for 68.1% of all illicit drug detections in the year.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the record number of seizures was "a good result".

"Our law enforcement agencies are doing good work but there is a lot more work to do," he said.

"The key to catching criminals and seizing drugs on the street and at the border is teamwork and criminal intelligence.

"We need to expand the use of both, and that's exactly what we're doing."

Read more on:    australia  |  narcotics

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