Regulation changes to combat illicit drug manufacturing in Australia

Changes to the criminal code and customs regulations will come into force today to make it harder for criminals to manufacture illicit drugs in Australia.

Transnational, serious and organised crime groups use precursor chemicals to manufacture illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine or ‘ice’. While many of these chemicals are classed as prohibited imports, some precursor chemicals can still legally be brought into Australia.

To ensure these chemicals are only imported for legitimate reasons, the Liberal Morrison Government has proscribed additional substances as prohibited precursors, under the Criminal Code and Customs Legislation Amendment (Precursors and Drugs) Regulations 2020.

Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs the Hon. Jason Wood MP, said these substances had no legitimate industrial or commercial use, so shouldn’t be brought into the country.

“Local crime syndicates use precursor chemicals to manufacture illicit drugs right here in Australia,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

“The methods criminals use to make illicit drugs are constantly evolving. They’re using different chemicals to manufacture these drugs, which is why we need to ensure our laws reflect these practices.

“The changes bring federal controls into line with state and territory controls, enabling law enforcement agencies to investigate, prosecute and disrupt the importation of these new precursors.”

The Government has amended four regulations to ensure Australia adheres to its international obligations, controls additional drugs in line with Department of Health requirements, and supports the Government’s National Drug Strategy. These amendments:

  • List additional substances as controlled precursors and border controlled precursors through the Criminal Code Regulations 2019;
  • Impose controls on the importation and exportation of drugs, and the importation of precursors through the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 and the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956; and
  • Prescribe additional precursors as tier 1 goods in Part 1 to Schedule 7 of the Customs Regulation 2015.

“As Australia’s Customs Service, the Australian Border Force (ABF) works to stop these precursors at the border, disrupting the local manufacture of illicit drugs and depriving criminals of a product to sell,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

“Already this year, the ABF has made 716 detections of precursor drugs. ABF officers are constantly on the lookout for precursors being illegitimately brought into the country.”

It is an offence to import precursor chemicals without a license or permit. Penalties under the Criminal Code Act and Customs Act range from two years imprisonment and/or a fine of $88,800 for possession, up to 28 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,243,200 for more serious offences.

Further information about the changes is available here:
www.abf.gov.au/help-and-support-subsite/CustomsNotices/2020-34.pdf

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