Chilling items used to smuggle drugs into Australia
US drug cartels are using household items ranging from vacuum cleaners, subwoofers, and cooking pots to medical supply bags and cereal boxes, to smuggle shipments of the deadly drug ice into Australia.
In February alone, the Australian Border Force found ice in those aforementioned items in five separate incidents on planes.
ABF Superintendent of Aviation Goods Brett Totten said the way drugs had been concealed over the summer had been quite unusual.
"The way things have been concealed are a little out of the ordinary," he said.
"It goes to show both criminal syndicates and individuals will go to extreme lengths and they're quite creative in the way that they choose to conceal illicit substances to circumvent our controls.
"Regardless of how people conceal these substances, we have the means and the experience and technology to find these goods," he added.
ABF officers use dogs, X-ray machines and physical searches to uncover drugs on planes, often relying on their experience and "intuition".
They have found drugs in quantities varying from as little as 20g right up to hundreds of kilograms.
The ABF said criminals had used "pretty much anything" that had a hollow interior to conceal drugs or other prohibited imports, such as precursor chemicals, to make narcotics and even firearms.
Superintendent Totten said gangs had been using a "scattergun approach" when trying to import drugs, opting to ship dozens of smaller consignments instead of risking it with one massive haul.
"There are some criminal syndicates out there that are quite brazen and choose to ship in a 50kg shipment in one go, whereas others will attempt to … break it down into smaller consignments to give them a greater opportunity to circumvent our controls," he said.
However, Supt Totten conceded that authorities could not search every package being sent into the country.
"We see tens of millions of air cargo consignments arrive into Australia every year - I don't think it's a secret that we physically can't intervene or examine every one of those packages," he said.
"But what I can say is that we do intervene in every consignment in Australia - and by that I mean our intelligence people monitor and screen all of the information that's relating to each and every consignment. So we physically intervene and examine all of the consignments that pose the biggest risk to the border."