Pubdate: Wed, 22 Mar 2000
Source: Courier-Mail, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2000 News Limited
Contact:  GPO Box 130, Brisbane Queensland 4001
Fax: (07) 3666 6696
Author: Sean Parnell


MORE illegal amphetamine laboratones are found in Queensland than any
other state and police fear Asian druglords are planning to infiltrate
the booming Austtalian market.

According to the latest Australian Illicit Drug report, almost
two-thirds of the 131 clandestine laboratories detected in 1998-99
were in Queensland.

The report, based on data provided by state, federal and International
law enforcement agencies, said illicit amphetamine producers in
Queensland also were becoming more sophisticated and using different
methods to avoid detection.

But it warned heroin manufacturers in South-East Asia were
diversifying their operations into illicit amphetamine and "designer
drug" production, and, "with their established contacts and advanced
methods of concealment, are capabLe of importing psycho-stimulants
into Australia".

"If law enforcement efforts were successful in limiting local
production of amphetamines, the price per gram would probably
increase," the report said.

"The Australian market would then become more attractive to overseas
amphetamine producers and the amount of amphetamine detected at the
Customs barrier would increase."

The report said heroin sold in Queensland was mostly produced in
South-East Asia (where production has dropped in recent years), sold
by persons of South-East Asian origin in Sydney and distributed
locally by persons from Vietnamese and Romanian extraction.

But legally-manufactured and illegally-obtained pharmaceuticals were
considered the most serious threat, both for their use in
manufacturing or spiking other drugs and their addictive qualities.

"Pharmaceutical use for non-medical reasons is increasing and, after
tobacco and alcohol, it is Australia's most serious drug problem," the
report said.

The report said injecting drug-users were increasing their use of
ground pharmaceuticals, but most law-enforcement agencies reported
spending little time investigating pharmaceutical abuse.

Legislative attempts to reduce doctor-shopping and the illegal import
of pharmaceuticals were having some success, however Brisbane Customs
officers reported the detection of eight 100-ml bottles of Codeine
Linctus on a passenger who claimed to be taking the government
subsidised narcotics to relatives in Vietnam.

"There is limited recognition of the extent of pharmaceutical abuse in
Australia and whilst this is the case the abuse of pharmaceuticals
will continue to have major and adverse impacts in terms of health and
social costs," the report said.

Pharmaceuticals, cannabis and heroin continued to be the drugs of
choice for prisoners, and Queensland prison officers caught 95
visitors attempting to smuggle drugs in 1998-99. 
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