Eyes on unions that import contraband in parcel post and air freight

AFP’s high-volume anti-drug teams are targeting unions trying to mail millions of drug packages in this festive and festive season.

Drug traffickers see Australia as a lucrative market due to the high demand for the drug and the high prices users will pay. AFP, in partnership with Australian Border Force (AFP) officers on Australia’s international border, is working tirelessly to prevent these drugs from reaching our communities because of the damage they cause.

Sadly, there is one death in the Australian community for about two kilograms of heroin consumed, one death for every 91 kilograms of methamphetamine ingested, and one death for every 81 kilograms of cocaine consumed.

There are three high volume drug teams in Australia.

The AFP-led Vanguard Task Force was formed in New South Wales in July 2021, with around 30 investigators targeting drug imports identified in mail and air cargo and money laundering activity associated.

Taskforce Vanguard was specifically designed to tackle the growing trend of organized crime syndicates to adapt their methods of importing illicit drugs into Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasingly turning to high volume light packages via air freight and parcel post systems.

Since its inception, Taskforce Vanguard has resulted in more than 50 search warrants, 30 arrests, the seizure of over $ 3.5 million in cash and hundreds of kilograms of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

The seized illicit drugs were hidden in a series of items, including handbags, whey protein, exhaust pipes, a baby rocking chair, water filtration units and postal tubes apparently containing drugs. plans.

Investigators have identified links between organized criminal groups that import illicit drugs and subsequent money laundering activities to move the proceeds of drug-related activities overseas.

During an investigation, the task force found that money, linked to outlawed motorcycle gangs and suspected to be the proceeds of crime, had been transferred to Dubai, Vietnam and China.

In Victoria, the High Volume Drug Crime Team, along with members of the Victoria Police, Australian Border and Home Affairs Icarus Joint Task Force, seized millions of dollars in border-controlled drugs and precursor chemicals in 2021.

The Victorian High-Volume Drugs Team collected a total of 6,962 individual seizures this year, concealed in anything from machinery and electrical devices to sculptures and statues.

The rate of parcels sent to Australia increases dramatically during the holiday season.

Drug traffickers more often send smaller packages in an attempt to evade law enforcement.

Each package comes with its own unique cover-up, some more sophisticated than others. The intended destination can be anywhere, but the investigative techniques used by law enforcement to track these items are constantly evolving.

High-volume AFP Drugs Team Detective Inspector Julian Bianco said serious and organized transnational criminal networks attempting to flood Australia with drugs would face AFP full force and its partners.

“These high volume imports are often used by serious transnational organized crime groups to generate funds for larger or larger shipments. Unfortunately, the demand for illicit substances in Australia, and the large profits it generates for those involved, means these criminal groups are being pushed to continue flooding Australia with imports.

“Our work with our partners continues to put maximum pressure on these groups to disrupt activities that would otherwise cause serious damage to the Australian community.”

AFP Detective Superintendent Craig Bellis said illicit drug imports and cash flow go hand in hand, and the task force will continue to tackle both.

In Queensland, the Sentry Task Force was established in February 2021. The Task Force accepted 293 referrals, for 235 investigations, regarding the seizure of $ 29,211,870 worth of drugs or weapons destined for Queensland.

Taskforce Sentry includes members of AFP, the Queensland Police Service’s Crime and Intelligence Command, Australian Border Force and the Home Office, who work together to gather intelligence, implement investigative strategies and take action against syndicates of smuggling and distribution of illicit items, including by post and flow of goods.

AFP Detective Inspector Scott Curtis said following a tactical action by the task force or a direct referral to regional investigators there have been a total of 116 people charged with 515 offenses .

“This tactical action resulted in the seizure of an additional 10 firearms, approximately $ 3,022,012 in cash and drugs valued at $ 10,765,983,” Detective Inspector Curtis said.

So far this year, AFP has charged 57 people in Western Australia with drug offenses, including attempted importation stuffed inside a toy llama, dissolved in a pot of paste waterproofing and welded to vehicle parts.

AFP Western Command Detective Superintendent Graeme Marshall said that while most air mail imports may appear to be relatively small amounts of illicit substances – from 5g to several kilograms – combined, intercepted air imports across Australia amount to millions of individual street transactions and could cause significant damage.

“In addition to deaths, illicit drug use poses a significant burden to the Australian economy, the estimated total social cost for each kilogram of illicit drugs classified as stimulants, such as methamphetamine, is $ 228,789.89, rising to $ 1.3 million for heroin – through crime, lost productivity, emergency treatment and increased health care costs, ”he said.

“This is why AFP is working closely with Australian border forces in Western Australia and other local and international partners to disrupt all levels of drug trafficking.

“We’ve seen drug importers trying to distance themselves from crime by having packages delivered to parcel lockers, which they organize using fake IDs, paying couriers or even paying a few thousand dollars to people to collect the drugs for them, ”Detective Superintendent Marshall said. noted.

“However, we are mindful of the different ways criminals try to hide and move their drugs – and we are ahead of the game.

“AFP and ABF share intelligence gathered during their investigations to help detect and intercept further import attempts.

“People trying to import drugs need to be warned – next time it might be the police, not a delivery courier, knocking on your door. “

Brett Totten, regional superintendent of Australia’s border forces, said the ABF intercepts hundreds of small-scale drug imports arriving in Australia every week through air cargo and parcel post systems.

“Collectively, the volume of these import attempts is significant. So far this year, ABF has seized more than 11 tonnes of drugs arriving in Australia by air, ”the superintendent said. Totten said.

“These drugs cause significant damage and destroy lives if they reach our communities. We continue to collaborate and work closely with our law enforcement partners to disrupt these criminal activities and keep our communities safe. ”

It comes as AFP revealed on December 6, 2021 that it is testing international mail for illicit drugs and firearms in real time to help identify drug traffickers overseas.

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