CRIME STOPPERS VICTORIA ADDRESSES DRUG DEALING VIA THE POST
Crime Stoppers Victoria are working with Victoria Police to disrupt the supply and volume of drugs that are being sent through the Australian postal system.
The launch of the Drugs in the Mail campaign wants to bring the Australian public’s attention to the growing trade in the online ordering of illicit drugs. In the last 12 months Operation Vitreus as part of the Trident Task Force has seized over 5,000 packages.
Crime Stoppers Victoria visited recent operations and witnessed a steady stream of packages being detected by x-ray and sniffer dogs.
Detective Inspector Craig Darlow of the Trident Task Force said, “It never fails to surprise investigating officers the lengths that drug dealers will go to attempt to conceal drugs. The x-ray can still look inside, and the drug dogs can still smell. Just because they are in an envelope they aren’t hiding.”
The Australian Border Force (ABF) has bolstered its capacity to screen mail with the introduction of a new high-tech 3D Computed Tomography (CT) scanning machine at the Melbourne International Mail Gateway Facility.
ABF Superintendent Aviation Goods, Greg Dowse, said the CT scanner is primarily designed to detect security threats, including explosives, but can also pick up other prohibited items such as drugs.
“Our highly trained officers use a variety of resources and technology to detect illicit drugs in international mail, including x-ray, detector dogs and intelligence. The ABF also work very closely with Victoria Police in support of Operation Vitreus,” Superintendent Dowse said.
The confidence some dealers have in their packages reaching their intended recipient meant that many were offering a replacement guarantee. Police intelligence says this has become less popular with the increase in interceptions. Police believe the package with 150 grams of cocaine was on its way to a dealer who would then sell smaller amounts to their own customers.
In December 2018 a half kilogram of cocaine was detected in the mail. Investigators identified the alleged sender and a search warrant was carried out at a Melbourne residence. A number of firearms, commercial quantities of various drugs and cash exceeding $340,000 was allegedly seized.
In June 2019, investigators identified several people who were allegedly trafficking methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA through the post. Three warrants were executed which led to the seizure of several hundred thousand dollars of cash, commercial quantities of various drugs, and several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of designer handbags and shoes. Three people were charged with trafficking commercial quantities of drugs and remanded.
Crime Stoppers Victoria CEO Stella Smith asks the question, “Are we ‘normalizing’ illicit drug activity? People can buy these illicit drugs online just like groceries, and then have them delivered straight to their front door just like the rest of their online shopping. To some people it must seem normal, but illicit drug activity isn’t normal it is illegal.
“The impact of illicit drugs on the Victorian community is multi-faceted but it is all negative including family violence, organised crime and theft. In 2017, 523 Victorians died from drug overdoses – this figure was more than double the road toll for the same year. This is not ok.
“Uni students and young adults are the new drug traffickers, and this is not ok. As parents we need to be aware of mail that is being received under the guise of things like online shopping or trading.”
Drugs in the Mail highlights the work of Operation Vitreus, the Victoria Police and Australian Border Force operation focusing on domestic mail of illegal drugs. It is part of the Trident Task Force which is a joint agency task force comprising Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Transaction Reports & Analysis Centre, Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Crime Commission.
Stella Smith reinforces the campaign is targeting suppliers of illicit drugs, rather than its end users.
“At Crime Stoppers we realise that drug addiction is a health issue. We are not looking for information on the end users, we encourage them to access treatment. We are looking for information specifically regarding the manufacture, trafficking and supply of illicit drugs.” she said.
“We need to stop the manufacture, stop the distribution and stop the supply. Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at crimestoppersvic.com.au.”
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