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Campaign puts organised crime and the illicit drug trade in the spotlight

Posted on 28/03/2023

“They’ll never know it was you who spoke up.” That’s the message from Crime Stoppers as it launches a national campaign designed to shine a spotlight on organised crime syndicates involved in the illicit drug trade.

Crime Stoppers Australia Chair, Dr Vince Hughes, said people linked to the illicit drug trade often reach a point where they become concerned for their personal safety or that of their family and look for a way out – and Crime Stoppers gives them a lifeline to anonymously share what they know.

“Because Australians are high consumers of illicit drugs, the trade provides a highly lucrative and profitable market for organised criminal networks such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, cartels, triads and Italian organised crime. In fact, with the illicit drug trade estimated to be worth more than $10 billion per year the profits they make are now the lifeblood of their illegal activities,” Dr Hughes said.

“Those profits are often used to fund other illegal activity, including human trafficking and sexual servitude, and many of the violence experienced in Australian suburbs can be directly linked to illicit drug trafficking activity,” he said.

“Our campaign has been funded by the Australian Government through a Proceeds of Crime Act grant, which is using $3.55 million from seized criminal assets to turn the tables on organised crime and help law enforcement unsettle domestic drug markets and disrupt national and international supply chains.”

Independent research commissioned by Crime Stoppers found that drugs remain the number one crime of concern for all Australians, with recent wastewater testing results confirming methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and heroin as the most dominant illicit drugs used in the nation.

“In some way, every Australian family has been impacted by drugs; whether that’s losing a loved one to addiction, the 1 in 10 people who’ve been a victim of an illicit drug-related incident, or indirectly affected because of the significant health and social costs to the community,” Dr Hughes said.

“We understand some people who may be in, or linked to, the drug trade may not want to deal directly with police. Crime Stoppers provides the perfect option for anyone who has information because they can anonymously share what they know without needing to get involved or risk their own safety,” he said.

The 6-month campaign, developed in consultation with police, industry groups and other law enforcement agencies, also engages the transport, freight and logistics sectors. These are common channels to import and transport illicit drugs, with organised crime groups often corrupting or intimidating employees of these key sectors or placing criminal associates into the workforce.

The campaign includes extensive advertising and will be supported by grassroots engagement through a series of community and industry events delivered by Crime Stoppers across Australia.

Find out more about the campaign here.


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