Comments Off on Methamphetamine drug lab busts decline in Queensland as ice pours in from China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Mexico and Iran

DRUG lab seizures are dropping at a dramatic rate in Queensland because most users are turning to readily available ice that has been smuggled in from overseas, police say.

About 19 illegal labs are being seized across the state each month, down from about 28 a month in previous years.

Detectives say the flood of crystal meth into Australia has put a dent in the demand for locally cooked drugs.

Ice is fetching up to $500 a gram on the street but authorities say despite its high price and well-documented dangers, it has become the drug of choice because it is more potent, attractive to users who do not want to inject, and easy to source.143468-94d977d8-df3f-11e4-a16e-c49b94c206d0

The taskforce, which will formulate a national ice action strategy, follows an Australian Crime Commission report that revealed crime gangs from countries such as China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Mexico and Iran were flooding the local market with ice, cashing in on the growing craving for stronger drugs.

Ice is now up to 79 per cent pure, almost four times that of traditionally made meth.

Police shut down about 340 clandestine labs each year across the state but since the end of June last year, they have dismantled about 190, many of which are still being forensically analyzed.145523-b19f5ba8-df3f-11e4-a16e-c49b94c206d0

“We’re still finding the labs in Queensland, but not at the same rate we used to,” the state drug command’s acting detective inspector, Geoff Marsh, said.

“Ice is so readily available and it’s highly addictive; you can be addicted the first time you use it.”

In Europe, a kilogram of crystal meth sells for about $5000, but in Australia, the same quantity costs up to $250,000.

“The price of drugs we’re paying in Australia is among the highest in the world – that’s why we’re attractive to crime groups,” acting Det-Insp Marsh said. “We’re a viable market for overseas criminals. Socially, we have an appetite for drugs and we’re prepared to pay top dollar.”

Dr James Finn, of Prince Charles Hospital’s alcohol and drug unit, said health professionals were seeing more people affected by ice.

“The amount of energy it can give someone and the euphoric feeling is quite profound … (but) the problem with ice is that over time, it damages serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain,” he said.

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