Fri, May 18, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Australia seized record amount of drugs at 9.3 tonnes in the past year

AFP, Sydney

Better intelligence helped Australia seize a record amount of illicit drugs in the past year, a study showed yesterday, with big busts from Malaysia and Pakistan boosting the haul.

There were almost 70,000 seizures in the 2010-2011 financial year, according to the Australian Crime Commission’s Illicit Drug Data Report, with over 9.3 tonnes confiscated and 84,700 arrests made.

That included three hauls of heroin detected through sea cargo — two separate shipments from Malaysia of 168.5kg and 42kg and one from Pakistan weighing 25kg.

It also included a single bust of cocaine from a small yacht which accounted for 57 percent of the total weight of the drug found.

“Intelligence is the key to seizing drugs on the street and at the border,” Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said. “Ninety-six percent of drug seizures come from intelligence from law enforcement agencies before the parcel or container even arrives in Australia.”

Australian Crime Commission chief John Lawler picked up on the same theme, saying improved intelligence was helping to target organized gangs.

“The increase in seizures is a direct result of increased intelligence and information sharing between jurisdictions in Australia and with our overseas partners,” he said. “That’s the power of intelligence — the more information law enforcement has about serious organized criminals and their methods, the better chance we have of breaking down their syndicates.”

Cannabis remains the major illegal drug when it comes to seizures, with 70 percent of all arrests related to it, followed by amphetamines.

The report said steroid seizures and arrests were at their highest in the past decade, but the use of ecstasy had decreased for the first time since 1995.

Heroin accounted for 2.8 percent of seizures and cocaine 1.7 percent, while more than 700 clandestine drug laboratories were busted, most of them in residential areas, the study showed.

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