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AU’s Illicit Drugs Reach Records High

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By Athena Yenko | April 30, 2014 3:47 PM EST

Seizures and illicit drugs-related arrests reach records high across the country according to a report from the Australian Crime Commission's titled Illicit Drug Data Report 2012-2013.

Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said that while the report was encouraging it also paints a picture of the disturbing illicit drug market across the country.

"The information released today is as encouraging as it is challenging. Law enforcement is making significant inroads in the fight against illicit drugs. We're detecting more criminals and disrupting more illicit drugs before they hit the streets. But there is much more work to be done and this report also provides critical evidence so that decision makers and law enforcement officers can develop further strategies to undermine the business models of organised crime and combat the threat of illicit drugs," Keenan told press at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital.

Keenan pointed out that an increasing number of amphetamine, ice or meth, seizures were particularly worrisome as it is an insidious drug affecting not only the users but the families and communities as well.

The Illicit Drugs Data Report will be instrumental for the commission to come up with effective measures to stop illicit drugs.

"Since coming to Government we immediately put measures in place to specifically detect and disrupt illicit drugs before they hit the streets. We have introduced anti-gang strike teams in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia under our National Anti-Gangs Squad. These are specialist federal law enforcement officers embedded with state police to detect and disrupt the illicit drug trade and undermine the business models of organised crime.These teams feed information to our recently established Australian Gangs Intelligence Coordination Centre and that intelligence is coordinated by the Australian Crime Commission to track gangs operating across state and territory borders," Keenan explained.

Australian Crime Commission Chief Executive Officer Chris Dawson praised the reports' content.

"For the first time, the report includes forensic profiling data of both border and domestic methylamphetamine and MDMA seizures, as well as profiling data of domestic heroin seizures. This gives us a greater understanding of the illicit drug market, which enables us to better protect the community against the threat, harm and destruction that illicit drugs cause," Dawson said.

Additionally, the Crime Commission gave $88 million to Customs and Border Protection to improve its security measures involving high-risk cargo and mail, as well as to intensify examinations and inspections conducted to track illegal drugs before hitting the streets.

The Government will also utilize dirty money from proceeds of crime and unexplained wealth proceedings to fund strategies to tackle organised crime and the illicit drug trade.

"We will continue to work with States and Territories to make sure that we have a comprehensive national picture and response to the problem of illicit drugs because we are determined to undermine the business models of organised crime and combat the scourge of these drugs," Keenan ended.

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