A crystalline substance was found inside Colpac medical supply bags. Picture: Australian Border Force
A crystalline substance was found inside Colpac medical supply bags. Picture: Australian Border Force

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.

 

 

 

Testing returned positive results for methamphetamine. Estimated weight — 6kg. Picture: Australian Border Force
Testing returned positive results for methamphetamine. Estimated weight — 6kg. Picture: Australian Border Force

 

The substance was found inside the supply bags. Picture: Australian Supplied by ABF
The substance was found inside the supply bags. Picture: Australian Supplied by ABF

 

"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.

6kg was discovered inside subwoofers in February. Picture: Australian Border Force
6kg was discovered inside subwoofers in February. Picture: Australian Border Force

 

The substance was proved to be methamphetamine. Picture: Australian Border Force
The substance was proved to be methamphetamine. Picture: Australian Border Force


"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".

 

Authorities discovered five consignments from Canada with substances inside cereal boxes. Picture: Australian Border Force.
Authorities discovered five consignments from Canada with substances inside cereal boxes. Picture: Australian Border Force.

 

The substance weighed in at 5kg. Picture: Australian Border Force
The substance weighed in at 5kg. Picture: Australian Border Force

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.

 

These suspicious boxes of cooking pots were examined. Picture: Australian Border Force.
These suspicious boxes of cooking pots were examined. Picture: Australian Border Force.

 

Inside they found 4.2kg of methamphetamine. Picture: Australian Border Force
Inside they found 4.2kg of methamphetamine. Picture: Australian Border Force

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.

 

These vacuum cleaners were searched by authorities. Picture: Australian Border Force
These vacuum cleaners were searched by authorities. Picture: Australian Border Force

 

Inside authorities found 4kg of methamphetamine. Picture: Australian Border Force
Inside authorities found 4kg of methamphetamine. Picture: Australian Border Force

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."

The subwoofers were coming into the country from America. Picture: Australian Border Force
The subwoofers were coming into the country from America. Picture: Australian Border Force


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