Australia’s postal system has become a significant route for illegal drugs entering the country.
The Australian Crime Commission says drugs are being smuggled with parcels of food and t-shirts, and inside items like CDs and DVDs.
Commission chief executive John Lawler says he cannot give a total value for the mailed drugs intercepted, but says last year law enforcement officers seized 8.4 tonnes of drugs poised to enter
With those seizures, the officers made 78,000 arrests, the agency head told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program.
The trade has a value to criminals of “many billions of dollars”, says Mr Werden, discussing the commission’s annual report.
International drug traffickers are using both air mail and sea mail to get drugs into the country, the agency head says.
As a result, all letters and parcels coming from overseas are now screened for drugs.
The range of substances seized covers “the full gamut of drugs. We’re talking about cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine-like drugs”.
In terms of the source for drugs entering Australia by all means, the commission has identified a trend away from South-East asia to South-West Asia.
Mr Lawler says drugs are coming into Australia from a range of countries, but Afghanistan is “a significant producer of opium and heroin and it’s one of the predominant countries” for heroin.
Mr Lawler warns that organised crime in Australia is behind the smuggling.
“Over half the proceeds from serious and organised crime are drug-related,” he said.
“The cost to Australia from serious and organised crime is in the order of $10 billion.”
By Claudette Werden