Surge in illicit opium imports into Australia raises concerns

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2nd December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Authorities in Australia have issued a warning about the increasing imports of illicit opium into the country. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced on Saturday that they have seized a total of 155 kg of opium since January 2023. This amount is more than double the quantity intercepted in 2022 and approximately six times the amount seized in 2021.

In a joint statement, the AFP and the Australian Border Force (ABF) expressed their concerns over international criminal syndicates that are employing sophisticated techniques to conceal opium within various objects, making it harder to detect. They also suspect that Australian criminal groups are collaborating with contacts in India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom to facilitate the importation of the drug.

Commander Paula Hudson of the AFP emphasized that not only are the drugs being seized, but alleged offenders connected to the imports are also being arrested. She stated, “We’re reminding criminals that we are not only seizing the drugs but arresting alleged offenders who are connected to the imports. We will continue to work to target your illicit operations, identify you and bring you to justice.”

Importing a border-controlled substance in Australia is a serious offence under the law. Convicted individuals can face maximum jail sentences ranging from 10 years to life, depending on the quantities involved.

Commander Clinton Sims of the ABF highlighted the record levels of illicit drug seizures at the border in 2023. He emphasized the commitment to safeguard the integrity of the Australian border, stating, “Organized crime groups who are seeking to import illicit drugs should know that we will protect the integrity of the Australian border.”