The US fought designer drugs, commonly referred to as analogues, ever since their inception. Clandestine laboratories kept creating new “designer drugs” that mimicked the effects of another drug, usually a pharmaceutical compound. US authorities found themselves unable to maintain a pace with new chemicals. Now, Australia announced that they stood in a similar position.
These analogue “cat-and-mouse games,” so to speak, went nowhere. But then the rise of opioid analogue uevent overdoses gave the US a slight nudge. Darknet markets took the blame without—both because many marketplaces stocked highly potent opioid analogues and similarly because the media, general public, and authoritative figures loved to hate cryptomarkets. And, of course, the Canada incident revealed that anyone could place orders for carfentanil via bulk suppliers in China.
Law enforcement stepped their game up once the China connection became a headline. The DEA claimed that agents maintained contact with Chinese law enforcement and worked on preventing the production and exportation of fentanyl analogues. Then, after warnings from American counterpart agencies, the Australian Border Force created a team to monitor the darknet. The DEA recently warned the Australian government that a similar “opioid epidemic” would likely manifest in Australia.
Australian Border Force Chief Roman Quaedvlieg told News Corp Australia that the threat was valid. “Fentanyl has caused a large number of deaths across North America over a number of years and we fear it could result in a similar toll here as a result of its potency.“ Australian law enforcement actively pursued darknet buyers and vendors, if found.
After the recent arrest of a buyer, ABF Acting Commander Palmer said that we [ABF and SAPOL] “are well aware of these websites [darknet marketplaces] and take any attempts to import illegal controlled drugs very seriously. Working with our partner agencies, we will continue to target those people who think they can illegally purchase and import illicit goods online.”
Chief Roman Quaedvlieg explained that the ABF and partner agencies “had significant intelligence holdings engaged to darknet sites.” Authorities already captured packages at the border but Quaedvlieg said that with an online presence, law enforcement could intercept far more drugs than before. “People should not underestimate the ability of Australian and international authorities to track and detect imports purchased via these websites,” he added.
ABF’s International Mail Command’s Superintendent Phillip Anderson emphasized that quantities in a seized package may seem insignificant but were quite the opposite with respect to potency. “Even on the Darknet where people are buying Fentanyl and Carfentanil they are putting warnings,” he said. “Even the Darknet is warning people about dealing with this stuff. We are aware there has been overdoses with this because they tend to mix it with other stuff at the same time.
He added that “detections are now regular, sometimes even three a day.” Chief Quaedvlieg said he saw between four and five small seizures a week. Usually only one or two grams per package. The agency planned on improving the ability to seizure packages at the Australian border, especially those from China.