While most Australians were enjoying Christmas and New Year’s Eve with their family and friends, thousands of Australian Border Force (ABF) officers were on duty at airports, seaports and international mail facilities around the country, screening holiday travellers and incoming mail and cargo.
Between 22 December 2017 and 2 January 2018, ABF officers detected over 100kgs of illicit and border controlled drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and MDMA.
More than 1.6 million passengers were processed at Australia’s international airports over the period, a nearly 4.5 percent increase on the same period last year. The majority of those, almost a million travellers, passed quickly through our state of the art SmartGates. As always, there were a small number found trying to breach our border controls.
On Christmas Eve, two men departing Melbourne airport were detected attempting to leave Australia with more than $75,000 of undeclared currency.
On Christmas Day, ABF officers at Sydney airport selected a 22-year-old Brazilian national for a baggage examination and allegedly located 4kg of cocaine concealed in his luggage. He was arrested and charged by the AFP.
The holiday period capped off a year of record seizures for the ABF and our law enforcement partners. The largest ever seizure of ephedrine, 3.9 tonnes, was made in October after a joint operation between the ABF and Australian Federal Police resulted in three arrests. A record 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine was also seized and eight men were charged in December after a Western Australian Joint Organised Crime Task Force operation.
ABF Acting Commissioner Michael Outram praised the tireless efforts of all those involved in these seizures and those officers working over the holiday period.
“I’m proud to lead such a dedicated, professional team of officers who consistently go above and beyond to protect our borders. I want to thank all those officers screening mail, air and sea cargo, processing international travellers, our investigators and those who spent Christmas at sea looking out for maritime threats,” Acting Commissioner Outram said.
“Every single gram of drugs we seize means one less hit that could potentially ruin someone’s life and the lives of those around them. Our officers play a critical role in protecting the community, particularly at this time of year.”
“Anyone thinking that we let our guard down over summer, or any holiday period, should think again. My officers are always there looking out for anything coming into the country that could cause harm to the community”.