AU Politicians lobby for increase in internet spies
By Sid Marris
March 01, 2007 12:00am
Article from: The Australian
POLITICIANS want police and the Australian Crime Commission to have extra powers to scour the internet and hunt the manufacturers and suppliers of synthetic drugs such as ice and ecstasy.
Authorities should be allowed to spy in web chatrooms and track down "cookbooks" that guide criminals and their technicians in the manufacture of the drugs, a parliamentary committee report said yesterday.
Other types of investigations, such as into tax evasion or money-laundering, should be encouraged in a bid to catch those businesses that operate with legitimate operations.
The joint standing committee on the Australian Crime Commission, which investigated amphetamines and other synthetic drugs, warned that organised crime was increasing its involvement in the insidious trade and a bolstered and co-ordinated national response was needed.
About four per cent of Australians aged from 15 to 64 had used amphetamines - about 100,000 people, compared with 1.6 per cent in Britain and 1.4 per cent in the US.
Ecstasy use was of a similar proportion.
Clandestine laboratories uncovered by police had grown from 58 a decade ago to 381 in 2004-05, the committee noted.
Investigators needed extra money from commonwealth, state and territory governments to specifically tackle law enforcement as well as education and research, the report says.
The use of ice was escalating, with it becoming the drug of choice among young people who did not believe it carried the social stigma of heroin. The increase was in part driven by international crime groups moving into amphetamines and other synthetic drugs (AOSD).
"Domestic organised criminal groups are also increasingly becoming involved in the production of AOSD, again because domestic production is more profitable," the report says.
"The escalation in the use of AOSD, coupled with the increasing availability of illicit drugs, now poses a significant problem for governments."