VICTORIAN Police Commissioner Graham Ashton has confirmed Australia faces a new wave of dangerous synthetic drugs, the likes of which could rival the ice epidemic.
Recently, I went to Bangkok to investigate the supply lines of illicit drugs through South-East Asia to Australia I met representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and discussed issues around transnational organised crime, anti-corruption, terrorism prevention, criminal justice, border controls and inspection processes for cross-border drug trafficking.
The concern with drug trafficking in the region is about the escalation of production and trade of amphetamine type stimulants having been established as the drug of choice over the past decade. Countries of origin with the greatest production were identified as Cambodia, Laos, Burma and China.
Heroin trafficking is also on the rise, second to amphetamines, with opium production increasing significantly – since 2007. The growing market of synthetic drugs, particularly the
market for methamphetamine and its supply lines using Thailand as a preferred route to Australia, led me to go to Bangkok to learn first-hand the players in the distribution of meth
tablets and crystal meth.
The West African mafia and outlaw bikie gang chapters have been the principal players in the distribution market working out of Thailand I watched a presentation about the rapid emergence of new psychoactive substances, which are designed to mimic the effects of other substances under international control. It seems Australia-has a more diverse NPS market than other countries in the region, and it was this particular area I wanted to be more informed about China is an emerging market for methamphetamine and seizures have doubled from 4.9 tonnes in 2009 to eight tonnes in 2013. Some 390 amphetamine laboratories were dismantled in China in 2013, most of them producing crystal methamphetamine bound for Australia. The drug route seems to be through the Philippines to Australia.
Road upgrades in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and into Thailand provide transit of drugs across countries with antiquated border inspection facilities, many without electricity, computer software or modern communication.
The study tour confirmed production of opium and methamphetamine was trending up in West Africa, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China Ready markets in Australia and New Zealand have an increasing
appetite for illicit drugs and the capacity to pay for a higher purity and quantity of drugs.
We have a long way to go before a resolution to illicit drug use and abuse is found but thanks to those who are involved and working hard — including the Geelong Advertiser, Senior Sergeant Tony Francis, the Geelong Ice Taskforce, police, healthcare professionals, countless social workers and counsellors — we are well-equipped to find one.
I will continue my work in this area to complement that undertaken in 2014 when I chaired a joint parliamentary committee inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamines in Victoria,
In September 2014, after eight months of exhaustive investigation, the committee tabled its report with 54 recommendations. It is important the report, specifically the establishment of
drug courts into regional Victoria and .the expansion of rehabilitation centres in regional areas, is addressed.
Simon Ramsay is the Member for Western Victoria Region.