X-Raying Packages and the use of sniffer dogs have been of great importance to the Australian Federal Police these past months since its implementation. This has helped the Australian Federal Police in edging closer to identifying some international drug lords who were making good uses of the mail as a means of transporting or sending drugs abroad. Early last month and the latter days of May, the AFP resorted to X-raying packages and using sniffer dogs to detect illegal packages in each state and territory over a two day period.
Australia has recently been in the spotlight regarding the use of mail as a means of transporting drugs, explosives and other forms of contrabands. A freedom of information lodged by ABC news and other entities revealed that 12,844 packages of illegal drugs were posted to Australia last year. A majority of those drugs were cannabis, as well as almost 3,000 parcels of ecstasy seized — the equivalent of more than 300,000 pills. The request pursued details of any kind of investigations into illegal drugs being sent through the post.
These alarming numbers caught the attention of the people who demanded answers at all cost as to why the Australian Post which also had an obligation to help stop the transportation of illicit goods had allowed this to happen. This led to the release of an astonishing letter from the Australian Post saying it lacked the legal authority and technology to detect illegal goods in the mail.
“Australia Post has an obligation to inform relevant authorities should it suspect the presence of illegal goods in mail items, but lacks the technology or equipment to detect [such goods],” the letter said.
“Australia Post lacks equipment such as X-ray machines, sniffer dogs or explosive trace detectors. “Australia Post lacks legal authority to open mail.”
A statement was further released to the ABC which stated that, the reason behind the lack of technology to detect illegal goods couldn’t be attributed to funding and that it was also in no position to make amendments to any laws. “Australia Post does not seek this legal authority which, in Australia Post’s view, properly sits with law enforcement agencies,” the statement said.
Officers of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC in a joint campaign managed to obtain over 82 kg of 62 types of drugs which were hidden in mailed packages. This included toys, food, cards, machine parts and packaging itself. The mailed drugs contained more than 40 kg of methamphetamines, 25 kg of cannabis and smaller amounts of heroin, cocaine, MDMA, prescription medications and steroids. Surprisingly, most marijuana detections in the international mail stream were in measurements from 6.6 kg to less than one gram.
Matthew O’Connor, ABF regional commander, central, stated that his corporation recorded nearly 75,000 detections of banned imports in the international mail in the 2016-17 financial year, or about 200 detections per day, and seized 16,000 tons of illicit drugs and precursors over the past two years. AFP South Australia commander Peter Sykora, who shepherded the operation, said the drugs detected had overseas addresses and would be helpful to officers coordinating international investigations. “The drugs are coming in from the mail system, and they’re coming in from overseas, whether it is from people purchasing it on the darknet or the dark web or through other means, but our aim is to actually tackle this at the source,” Mr. Sykora said.
The operation was “all about high frequency and low volume”.
Queensland, whose drugs of choice are cannabis, amphetamines, and party drug cocaine, led the chart of the number of imported drugs with 381 parcels. Victoria came next with 312, followed by Western Australia with 183, the Northern Territory 89 and NSW, with 21. 50 arrests so far have been made nationwide as a result of this operation.
A report has revealed that the police have registered a record number of arrest and seizure with this operation. The annual Illicit Drug Data Report which will be released on July 20th uncovers the 21st-century battle to combat drug lords and Australia’s voracious weakness to getting high. The report shows the number of national illicit drug seizures has increased almost 85 percent over the past decade, from 62,496 busts in 2006-07 to a record 115,421 in 2015-16.
Chris Dawson, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Committee chairman has spoken on the challenges of tech-savvy drug peddlers. “The online environment presents unique challenges for law enforcement,” he said. “The online environment has also enabled the creation of online criminal forums and marketplaces, often referred to as darknets, which enable information sharing and the trade of illicit services and commodities, both domestically and internationally.”
Michael Keenan, the Justice Minister, also said the report fortify that, ice use by far is the greatest threat to the community of all illicit drugs types. “Organized crime operatives rely on the profits from ice, with more than 60 per cent of Australia’s highest-risk criminal targets involved in the ice trade,’’ he said. “With drug peddlers getting more sophisticated than ever before, we must be smarter and more targeted in our collective efforts.”