Canberra [Australia], December 2: Imports of illicit opium into Australia are on the rise, authorities have warned.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Saturday said its officers have seized 155 kg of opium en route to Australia via air, parcel and sea cargo since January 2023 -- more than double the amount of the illicit drug it seized in 2022 and approximately six times the amount intercepted in 2021.
In a joint statement, the AFP and Australian Border Force (ABF) said international crime syndicates have stepped up efforts to conceal opium within objects to evade detection, citing concerns that Australian criminal groups are using connections in India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom to import the drug.
"We're reminding criminals that we are not only seizing the drugs but arresting alleged offenders who are connected to the imports. We will continue to work to target your illicit operations, identify you and bring you to justice," AFP Commander Paula Hudson said in the statement.
Under Australian law, anyone who is convicted of importing a border-controlled substance faces maximum jail sentences ranging from 10 years to life depending on quantities.
ABF Commander Clinton Sims said illicit drugs are being seized at the border at record levels in 2023.
"Organized crime groups who are seeking to import illicit drugs should know that we will protect the integrity of the Australian border," he said in the statement.
Source: Xinhua