MORE than 10 tonnes of illicit drugs and chemicals used to make them have been prevented from hitting our shores and streets in the past 18 months by a joint Australian-Chinese taskforce.
Announcing Sunday Taskforce Blaze will be extended to continue its war on drugs until at least next January, Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said seizures to date had a staggering estimated value of more than $5 billion.
In addition, more than 200 people have been arrested in relation to the task force’s efforts.
Mr Keenan, the Liberal MP for Stirling, said the task force’s extension should put “scumbag” drug dealers on notice that “we will hunt you down”.
“Taskforce Blaze has proven to be one of the single most effective ways to stop the scourge of illicit drugs, including ice, from hitting Australia’s shores,” the minister, who will be in China this week, said.
“Since its inception the task force has seized a staggering 10.5 tonnes of illicit drugs and precursors. That’s an average of more than half a tonne of drugs and millions of street deals every month.
“This is lifesaving work; just one hit of an illicit drug can take a life, destroy a family and devastate a community.”
The drugs seized by the task force have included a total of 4.5 tonnes of methamphetamine, with a street value of about $4.5 billion, as well as ecstasy, cocaine, ephedrine and other precursor chemicals. About 5.7 tonnes of the drugs were seized from Chinese investigations, while 4.8 tonnes were confiscated through Australian investigations.
Mr Keenan said Taskforce Blaze was groundbreaking because Australia was the only country to have such an agreement with China.