Media Release: 12 people arrested in Queensland in relation to drug and firearm offences

Release Date: Thursday, June 14 2012, 03:12 PM

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Queensland Police and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and Queensland Police have arrested 12 people as part of a joint agency investigation into drug importation in northern Queensland. 

These arrests are part of a national crackdown on the importation of illicit drugs through the postal system, particularly analogue or synthetic drugs. These chemically created substances aim to mimic other illicit substances, giving users the same effect. Since March 2012, 37 people have been arrested (including these latest arrests) in relation to this ongoing operation.

In the past few days, authorities have conducted four search warrants in Mount Isa, seizing more than 8.7 kilograms of synthetic cannabis as well as weapons and cash.

12 Mount Isa residents have been charged with a range of offences relating to the seizures, and are scheduled to appear before the Mt Isa Magistrates Court on 2 July 2012.

Northern Regional Drug Squad Townsville Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Brad Phelps said the rise in the use and popularity of synthetic drugs in North Queensland is of major concern to Queensland Police. 

“This operation has highlighted the prevalence of these drugs in our community. The QPS will continue to work in co-operation with our law enforcement partners to target persons involved in the importation and distribution of these drugs in Queensland,” Sergeant Phelps said.

Health authorities say ‘designer’ drugs pose a serious health risk to the community.

Dr Lucy Burns of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre stated that many of these synthetic drugs have chemical profiles that are unknown and may have significant adverse health effects.

“Reported harms include heart palpitations, symptoms of anxiety and agitation. Psychosis and very erratic behaviour have also been reported,” Dr Burns said.

AFP Manager of Crime Operations Peter Sykora stated that the high frequency, low volume nature of these drug imports poses a considerable threat.

“These imports contribute towards supplying the Australian market and exacerbate social problems within Australia associated with drug harm,” Commander Sykora said.

“The high income derived from these drugs and the relative low risk to offenders means that this kind of crime has the potential to explode in the community.”

Customs and Border Protection National Manager Cargo Operations Jagtej Singh warned that the public should not think that small amounts of illegal imports will go undetected.

“Customs and Border Protection takes the importation of all illegal substances seriously. Regardless of the quantity we have tools, techniques and procedures to intercept illegal drugs coming into the country,” Mr Singh said.

Further arrests have not been ruled out and investigations remain ongoing.

Media enquiries:
Customs and Border Protection Communication and Media (02) 6275 6793
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (02) 9385 0333
Queensland Police (07) 3015 2444
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333