New Zealand Opens New Drug Testing Lab With Funds from Drug Trade Money

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 21, 2014 5:08 PM EST

New Zealand has opened its first drug screening laboratory at the Custom's Auckland Airport Facility. The $250,000 lab was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key. This state-of-the-art lab and its equipement were funded from the money seized from drug offenders.

Reuters
Passengers and airline staff stand near a check-in desk of an airline that cancelled its flight out of Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion International airport July 22, 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned U.S. carriers from flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport, after a rocket fired from Gaza struck near the airport's fringes, injuring two people. European airlines including Germany's Lufthansa, Air France and Dutch airline KLM said they were halting flights there too. Israel's flagship carrier El Al continued flights as usual.

Yahoo News NZ reported that centre is expected to speed up analysis of unknown substances to save time and money for the Department of Customs.

Nicky Wagner, the minister for Customs, said the opening of the new testing centre also honoured the commitment it made in 2009. Thus, the ill-gotten money from the business of drugs is getting used for targeting the drug trade itself and in making life better for its victims.

A part of the money will also be used for the treatment of those affected by it. Thus, Ill-gotten gains are being used for the public good.

The minister said that more than $10 million has been allocated since November 2013 towards initiatives like drug screening lab.  

Criminal Proceeds Act

The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act enforced in December 2009 allowed the police to get forfeiture orders for assets worth $49 million as of July 30, 2014.  Of the amount, 55 per cent are related to methamphetamine offences.

The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 provided the Crown with greater powers to restrain and forfeit property to take funds from significant criminal activity without a criminal conviction.

The new screening lab is a big boost in the faster analysis of unknown substances to ensure investigative action against illegal drug importers. It will also help in improving intelligence and knowledge of psychoactive substances in New Zealand. This is also helpful in the quicker delivery of legitimate imports previously detained for testing.

Wagner said the lab was equipped with technology that can analyse hundreds of substances within hours and link it to ESR's main database. The Customs expects to refer 65 samples in a week. The equipments like portable drug screening devices were purchased from the proceeds of crime funding.

Speedy Testing

According to senior drug chemist Matthew Russell, samples could be tested in a variety of ways and help in speedy release of authorised goods to importers. The new facility can screen suspicious substances within minutes, unlike the past when it took many weeks.

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(Photo: Reuters / Siegfried Modola)
Passengers and airline staff stand near a check-in desk of an airline that cancelled its flight out of Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion International airport July 22, 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned U.S. carriers from flying to or from Ben Gurion International Airport, after a rocket fired from Gaza struck near the airport's fringes, injuring two people. European airlines including Germany's Lufthansa, Air France and Dutch airline KLM said they were halting flights there too. Israel's flagship carrier El Al continued flights as usual.
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