Logistics News, Port News

ABF targets drug smuggling at regional Australian ports

The ABF says it is keeping an eye on Australian ports to prevent illegal substances from being smuggled in

The Australian Border Force (ABF) says it has been conducting highly visible surveillance operations in Western Australia’s mid-west as part of its mission to detect illicit drugs being smuggled into Australia along its vast coastline.

Last month, ABF officers in the Geraldton Port patrolled the Batavia Marina boat ramp and Geraldton fishing harbour, as well as boarding vessels entering the port.

The ABF undertakes operational activity in regional areas to target drug smuggling, with new technology to help officers detect drugs hidden on the hulls of ships.

ABF Superintendent Shaun Senior says Australia is a hugely attractive market for transnational serious organised criminal syndicates seeking to import illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

“Historically, most of the drugs coming into Australian sea ports were hidden in cargo on commercial ships. ABF officers are among the best in the world at identifying drugs in these circumstances,” Senior says.

“Modern, professional crime syndicates are always looking for new ways to avoid our targeting capabilities in sea ports.

“The purpose of the operation is to harden the border by delivering a coordinated and sustained capability to discover, detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational organised crime that may compromise Australia’s border integrity.

“The Australian border is a critical national asset that goes well beyond defining national territory. Our border protects our interest, drives economic prosperity and connects us to the world.

“We worked closely with our law enforcement partners, including the Australian Federal Police, WA Police and also local port authorities, including Mid-West Ports here in Geraldton.

“Together we will continue to make the border a hostile environment for criminals trying to import illicit drugs.”

In 2017, the ABF and its law enforcement partners made a record breaking seizure of methamphetamine. A total of 1.2 tonnes were seized after a vessel arrived in the Geraldton Port.

The ABF says the community will always have a role to play in protecting the Australian border through ports.

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