Summary: Australia has witnessed a significant increase in opium imports, with more than double the amount seized in 2023 compared to 2022. This surge suggests a potential comeback of the ancient drug in the country, with concerns about its use in modern opium dens.
Rising Opium Imports in Australia: A Sign of the Drug’s Comeback
Opium, one of Australia’s oldest imported drugs, has seen a resurgence in recent times. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) seized over double the amount of opium in 2023 compared to 2022, and almost six times the amount seized in 2021. The AFP cannot rule out the possibility of users frequenting modern opium dens to buy and consume the drug.
Paula Hudson, the AFP’s acting assistant commissioner, acknowledges the historical context of opium use but emphasizes the need for law enforcement to avoid focusing on stereotypes. The current market for opium may differ significantly from historical patterns. Hudson suggests that those importing opium might not be overly concerned about the end market for the drug, as criminal groups are primarily motivated by financial gain.
The increase in opium production in Myanmar, a major source country for Australia’s opium, is also noteworthy. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that Myanmar’s opium production is at its highest in over two decades. The report links opium poppy cultivation in Southeast Asia to poverty, lack of government services, and political instability.
Opium can be challenging to detect due to its organic nature and the ability to impregnate it into various items. The AFP seized 155kg of opium from over 125 attempted imports via air, parcel, and sea cargo in 2023. Criminal groups in Australia are believed to use connections in the UK, India, and Pakistan to source the drug.
Source: The Guardian
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