Over the past 24 hours, there’s been a noticable influx of illicit drug-related news in the media, thanks to a new report: the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Illicit Drug Markets in Queensland: 2015-16 Intelligence Assessment. Even the title sounds important, and for narcotic users and traffickers in QLD, the findings are too.
Crystal meth, performance-enhancing drugs and synthetic hallucinogens are the primary mentions regarding excessive production, with reports stating Brisbane-based drug kingpins are churning out the substances and distributing the majority of them throughout regional Queensland. CCC executive director crime Kathleen Florian explains this pattern is born from the high demand and profit margins in these areas, which are so high that suppliers from Sydney and South-East Asia are even entering the trade.
The report also suggest that as the supply of more traditional illicit substances fluctuates unpredictably in these areas, new products are being brought to market, namely ‘synthetic drugs’ (read this). These synthetic substitutes are mimicking all sorts of more established drugs, including LSD, ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine. As we’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, these drugs are both dangerous and extremely unpredictable. Unfortunately for authorities, they’re also terribly hard to police, given the constantly-evolving nature of the market.
“The synthetic drugs are an issue for us in the regions because where the supply of traditional illicit drugs is not constant or it’s patchy, they (users) will take the synthetic drugs,” Ms Florian told ARM Newsdesk. “We find that where drug users have an option for traditional or synthetic drugs, they will prefer to use the traditional illicit drugs,” she said.
It was also noted within the report that the use of performance enhancing drugs (PIEDs) was of particular concern. The distribution of PIEDs was attributed to ‘local gym staff’ or ‘illegal purchases on the internet’, but also made mention that organised crime groups, including bikie gang members, are importing powdered varients of PIEDs and producing the final product on Queensland soil.
The report also had plenty focused on the organised crime syndicates responsible for the distribution of drugs, with various media reports mimicking the QPS’ focus on this area of the drug trade. Speaking on the matter, a QLD police spokeswoman stated, “Working with our regional partners and external agencies, we use technology and intelligence to proactively target these networks and limit the supply of these harmful drugs into the community.” The spokeswoman also said the force’s intention – however ambitious it may sound – is to ‘eradicate’ the use of illicit drugs.
In a further bid to dint the expansive drug market, the State Government plans to roll out new laws to tackle organised crime. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke on the issue recently, stating, “they will empower police to bring down individuals in criminal organisations, be they child sex predators, drug traffickers, boiler-room fraudsters or outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
On Monday, Taskforce Maxima detectives conducted raids on homes in the Brisbane suburbs of Warner, Deception Bay and Zillmere. Ice, hash and prescription medication were found on the properties, though the quantities have not yet been released. In addition to this, containers with false bottoms (presumably used to smuggle drugs), and $61,000 in cash were found.
So where does this leave us?
In the 2014/15 financial year, Australian authorities alone seized an estimated 27.3 tonnes of illegal drugs and made more than 112,049 drug arrests. At the time, that was the highest amount of seizures and arrests made, however as more recent data continues to service, it’s apparent a higher rate of incarceration and police activity is not dwindling the supply.
Unfortunately, as YFH have stated in the past, it is our belief that a complete reevaluation of our nation’s approach to illicit drug enforcement is necessary to stop the continual expansion of existing drugs, and quell the development of new, synthetic breeds.