7 April 2023

Drug trade between Canberra and Queanbeyan in the 'laser-like' sights of Crime Stoppers and police

| Claire Fenwicke
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seized drugs being tested by police

More than 400 kg of drugs have been seized in Canberra in the past three years. Photo: AFP Media.

Canberrans and those living across the border have been asked to disrupt the domestic, national and international drug supply of criminal networks simply by getting in touch with Crime Stoppers.

Local police networks have partnered with ACT Region Crime Stoppers to launch a campaign calling on people who know anything about the illicit drug trade in Canberra to report information anonymously.

ACT Region Crime Stoppers chair Oliver Forrester said it was about getting the community involved to stop the illegal drug trade into and around Canberra and Queanbeyan, as well as breaking the supply chain across the country and the world.

“The making and selling of illicit drugs across Australia is a lifeblood of serious and organised crime groups, and it’s estimated to be worth more than $10 billion per year,” he said.

“As the eyes and ears of the community, you can make a difference by helping to report what you know – we want to know what you know, not who you are.”

According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission 2022 Wastewater Analysis Report, the ACT ranked first nationally in capital city consumption of oxycodone, and second in cocaine, fentanyl and cannabis consumption and MDA excretion.

While more than 400 kg of illicit drugs have been seized in the Capital over the past three years.

ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said officers weren’t interested in busting the people who were taking illegal substances.

“It’s not about the users, it’s about those who actually make money off the filth they sell on the streets,” he said.

“Addiction needs to be treated as a health issue … our target needs to be organised crime, those who distribute drugs both here in the ACT and also internationally.

“[This is about] hurting the organised crime groups where it matters most, and that is their back pockets.”

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CPO Gaughan said it wasn’t just about disrupting criminal groups, but also protecting the community and those who were targeted by drug dealers.

“Unfortunately too many Canberrans lose their lives or get seriously injured as a result of drugs, including car collisions, suicides and we have many, many Canberrans who are highly addicted to drugs as well,” he said.

“So it’s important as a community we help those people out by assisting with initiatives such as this.”

People have been asked to get in touch anonymously if they see something suspicious or suspect illegal activity is occurring, such as drug dealing or drug creation.

This could include seeing someone alter power boxes on a house, lights on when no one is home, or a lot of people coming and going from a property in short periods of time.

“A tell-tale sign of drug dealing from a premise can be people coming and going, staying for two or three minutes, and then leaving … it’s the same with hotels,” CPO Gaughan said.

“We need the eyes and ears of the community to supply us with that information.”

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The message comes as small amounts of illicit drugs will be decriminalised in the ACT come late October.

“There always needs to be a focus on [this], but what we’re trying to do now is put a laser-like focus on it so we actually receive intelligence so we can act accordingly,” CPO Gaughan said.

“Every piece of information is important to police and could prove vital to an investigation, leading to an arrest and prosecution.”

The Crime Stoppers Illicit Drugs Campaign will continue until September 2023.

To anonymously report what you know, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or head online.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.

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