2022 Wrap: AFP prevents over $8 billion in drug harm

Editor’s note: Images of illicit drug seizures available via Hightail here  

The AFP has arrested and charged 792 people with more than 2000 offences, as part of investigations undertaken across the country in 2022.

The AFP actively investigated more than 3000 incidents nationally since January 2022. Arrests were made across a broad range of crime types, including transnational and serious organised crime, money laundering, fraud, aviation, child exploitation, human trafficking, counter-terrorism and cybercrime.

Transnational and serious organised crime remained a major focus for the AFP throughout 2022, with more than 24 tonnes of illicit drugs and precursors seized*.

The AFP seized around 19,653 kilograms in methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and MDMA, along with 21kg of precursors as part of 239 illicit drug investigations across the country.

It is estimated the seizure of these illicit substances prevented more than $8 billion dollars in drug-related harm to the Australian community. Between 1 January 2022 and 12 December 2022 the AFP arrested 186 alleged offenders, charging them with a total of 254 serious drug offences.

AFP Commander Kate Ferry said the AFP was committed to serving and protecting the Australian community in an ever-changing criminal environment across the country and around the world.

“The AFP’s results throughout 2022 highlight the incredible work we are achieving alongside our state, Commonwealth and law enforcement partners around the globe,” she said.

Commander Ferry said the seizure of more than 24 tonnes of illicit drugs and precursors throughout the year was significant.

“The AFP and its law enforcement partners have prevented more than $8 billion dollars in harm to the Australian community. These seizures have delivered a major blow to organised crime, but more importantly, it has protected countless lives that would have been affected by these drugs,” Commander Ferry said.

“We are incredibly proud to have made a difference in just twelve months, whether it be for users, healthcare workers, emergency services or families that deal with drug issues each and every day.”

The AFP’s International Command continued its crucial work by taking the fight against crime offshore to ensure the safety of all Australian citizens. With a presence in 33 counties around the world, AFP members liaise with international partners and strengthen our policing partnerships, undertake capacity building missions, contribute to regional stability and respond to international incidents. Additionally, approximately 4400 international enquiries were actioned through INTERPOL and Europol channels with the majority supporting State and Territory Police.

The AFP stepped up the fight against child exploitation around the world, providing a significant grant to INTERPOL to support the enhancement of a critical international database. In Australia, the AFP published a children’s picture book, Jack Changes the Game, a first-of-its-kind for law enforcement. Based on a report made to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), the book gives age-appropriate advice on how to deal with online grooming and has been distributed to all Australian primary schools.

Between January and November 2022, the AFP charged 213 people with 1,301 offences relating to alleged child sexual exploitation. Importantly, the AFP and ACCCE in collaboration with domestic and international law enforcement partners, removed 78 child exploitation victims from harm.

While in human trafficking, the AFP undertook action to protect 53 individuals, including women and children, who were at risk of forced marriage, forced labour and being purposely left overseas. The human trafficking disruptions, highlighting the AFP’s work in this space to assist and protect victims, were undertaken between 1 July 2021 and 30 November 2022.

The AFP’s Airport Uniform Police Teams responded to around 20 thousand incidents at nine security-declared Australian airports throughout 2022. A total of 363 people were arrested and charged with 519 offences relating to a range of incidents including intoxication, offensive and disruptive behaviour in the air and on the ground, along with possession of prohibited items.

The AFP reaffirmed its commitment to working with its international partners to combat cybercriminals attempting to exploit Australians and bring them to justice. Through Op GUARDIAN, the AFP continues to work tirelessly to scour the internet and dark web to identify criminals accessing peoples stolen personal information and trying to profit from it.

AFP Close Personal Protection officers undertook the responsibility of protecting Australian High Office Holders for another year, including the extra workload that is inherent in a Federal Election. The AFP deployed six full-time teams working around the clock, across the country, along with additional members supporting Australian high office holders and Guests of Government.

Commander Ferry said that while 2022 would soon be drawing to a close, the AFP’s work to target and dismantle criminal operations and bring perpetrators to justice was far from over.

“Our message to criminals - from organised crime syndicates through to cybercriminals, fraudsters and everything in between - is that the AFP won’t be slowing down over the holidays. Our work is never done. Our commitment and momentum continues and we will be targeting you.

“The AFP looks forward to continuing our work to protect the Australian community in 2023, and into the future,” she said.

*illicit drug statistics current as at 01 January 2022 – 20 December, 2022.

Note to media:

Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.

  • For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
  • Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
  • For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.
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Read the AFP Annual Report 2021-22

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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