National Week of Action, targeting GBL and 1,4-Butanediol, keeps dangerous drugs off streets

GBL seized by Australian authorities during national week of action

Australian and Hong Kong authorities have seized 20 litres of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and a range of other drugs, conducted over 40 search warrants and other activities across Australia as part of a National Week of Action targeting the dangerous border controlled substances.

In the last two years, Australian authorities have identified large quantities of GBL being imported from Asian origins, with 197 seizures totalling 7.6 tonnes. The Australian Federal Police (AFP), with support from China’s National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) under Taskforce Blaze, is working closely with Australian federal and state agencies to combat this crime.

The National Week of Action is an initiative of the Vitreus Taskforce which includes representatives from all state and territory policing jurisdictions across Australia, the AFP, and Australian Border Force (ABF).  The week of action was undertaken in response to increasing detections of GBL and 1,4-Butanediol at Australian borders, and the impact and harm such drugs have on our society.  The week involved all Vitreus agencies along with international partners including Hong Kong Customs and Excise, targeting importations of the illicit substances predominantly sourced from China as part of Operation Hailfellow.  The activity saw about 6.4 kilograms of GBL seized in Hong Kong.

Activities targeting the importation of illicit drugs and precursors took place at dozens of business and residential premises in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.  The activities resulted in three arrests, multiple interviews and ongoing forensic examinations.

A search warrant conducted in the Sydney suburb of Castle Hill found over 20 litres of GBL. A 30-year-old Castle Hill man was charged with importation and firearms offences.

AFP Manager Organised Crime, Acting Commander Peter Bodel said GBL is a concern for all policing agencies across the country.

“Any illicit substance can have dire consequences for the Australian community – the users, their family, friends and broader community are all affected,” Acting Commander Bodel said.

“Our message to the community is to stop taking this drug. Stop creating this international demand. Stop supporting criminal groups who seek to profit from the pain of others.

“The AFP and its partners are committed to targeting and disrupting those who attempt to import them into Australia.

“I also want to recognise and thank our domestic and international partners for their commitment to this week of action. Without such support we could not achieve this level of success,” Acting Commander Bodel said.

ABF Assistant Commissioner Port Operations Command Erin Dale said the operation was another great example of state, Commonwealth and international partners working together to protect the community.

“This has been a highly successful operation, with law enforcement across the country keeping this dangerous drug from reaching Australian communities.

“Hong Kong Customs and Excise is a key strategic partner for the ABF in our regional battle against the trade in illicit drugs and we look forward to continuing our work with them for years to come,” Assistant Commissioner Dale said.

GBL – also known as liquid ecstasy, fantasy or ‘coma in a bottle’ – is a serious drug that can have severe side-effects once used and can also lead to drug dependency. Symptoms of GBL use include vomiting, convulsions, loss of consciousness, respiratory depression and comas. In serious cases it can result in death.

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

Anyone with information about the importation of illicit drugs and precursors should contact BorderWatch at Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia's border. Information can be provided anonymously.

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