Feds target global drug networks
ORGANISED crime gangs sending drugs from the infamous Golden Triangle will be targeted in a renewed crackdown by the Federal Government.
Australia's insatiable appetite for illicit drugs, which continues to fuel violence and crime, is being fed by mobile labs and villages in Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.
Yesterday, just weeks before schoolies flood to the Gold Coast, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Leanne Close and Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister of Justice Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong signed a 12-month extension of the joint Australia-Thailand Taskforce Storm.
The taskforce, which fights drugs and transnational serious and organised crime, has seized more than three tonnes of marijuana, 5kg of methamphetamine in Thailand, plus 350kg of methamphetamine, 48 litres of gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 3.9 tonnes of the precursor chemicals (ephedrine) in Australia.
Most heroin that reaches Australia comes from SouthEast Asia and the Golden Triangle.
Methamphetamines such as ice and speed are also heavily produced in the region.
International syndicates have fluid and deep connections with gangs in Australia and help import the drugs, most of which come in via small parcels in the mail.
Mr Dutton will visit Thailand's Office of Narcotics Control Board, and the Thai Navy's Mekong Riverine Unit will brief him on counter-narcotics activities under Safe Mekong Operation, to which the Commonwealth has provided significant financial support.
Mr Dutton said the Government was working with international partners to keep drugs out of Australia.
"All of us as parents fear the impact of drugs, fear the potential impact and devastation," Mr Dutton said last night.
"Our international law enforcement partnerships are crucial to stopping the importations and detecting shipments before they arrive in Australia. There is a lot that we can do in combating the evils of illicit drug manufacturing and distribution.
"For many of us, we've seen the lives of young people in both of our countries destroyed by the impact of ice, amphetamines, drugs otherwise. We've seen lives destroyed by human trafficking and other areas where we've been able to work very closely together."
A Home Affairs spokesman said disrupting and preventing the importation of illicit drugs was an operational priority for the Australian Border Force (ABF).
"The ABF works closely with local and international law enforcement partners before, at and after the border to detect consignments of heroin and investigate those involved in their importation," he said.
"ABF officers deployed in Australia's international mail centres and at air and sea ports are highly skilled and able to identify consignments of illicit drugs, including heroin. Officers use a combination of intelligence, world-class x-ray technology, trace detection technology and detector dogs."
News Queensland understands the AFP works with law enforcement agencies in the Golden Triangle region to disrupt transnational organised crime syndicates, which are targeting Australia.
The Myanmar Joint Drug Crime Centre has also been established between AFP and Myanmar Police Force to target production and trafficking.
Since 2016, joint offshore operations have seized 17.2 tonnes of narcotics and 406 tonnes of precursors.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has determined priorities, called "determinations".
The High Risk and Emerging Drugs Determination is a special operation, focused on gathering intelligence on a particular criminal activity so informed decisions can be made about the extent, impact and threat of that criminal activity. It monitors all Australian illicit drug markets.
Mr Dutton this week also attended Counter-Terrorism Financing in Bangkok.
"Foreign fighters remain a significant threat to the people of ASEAN states and Australia alike," he said.
"By working together and maintaining strong relationships we are making progress against the fight of terrorism and serious organised crime."