Global conference to battle synthetic drug trade begins in Sydney today

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    This is a press release from the New South Wales Police force- so no link to original story provided.

    Global conference to battle synthetic drug trade begins in Sydney today

    An international conference where law enforcement, pharmaceutical companies and industry experts join together to tackle the serious problem of illegal drug manufacturing starts in Sydney today.

    The three-day Australasian Chemical Diversion Congress 2009 (ACDC) will be hosted by the NSW Police Force Drug Squad and will focus on law enforcement strategies to stop the manufacture of deadly amphetamines such as methylamphetamine (ice) and MDMA (ecstasy).

    To date this year, Drug Squad officers have seized more than 40kg of amphetamines with an estimated street value of more than $21.5 million in raids throughout NSW. This is more than the total for the whole of 2008 which was $21.2 million. In terms of clandestine laboratory raids, the Drug Squad dismantled 55 dangerous and toxic labs in 2008 and already this year they have dismantled 57.

    “In recent years there has been a substantial increase in the use of synthetic drugs such as MDMA. Methylamphetamine continues to be a problem,” Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham, Commander of the NSW Drug Squad, said.

    “This Congress will only enhance our offensive on the drug trade both here in Australia and in the Pacific. With industry and law enforcement working with each other, we can tighten controls on precursor chemicals which makes it harder for criminals to trade in these illicit substances.”

    The congress – now in its 13th year and for the first time in Sydney – brings together agencies committed to preventing the diversion of precursor chemicals into the illegal manufacture of amphetamines.

    This involves a range of groups from the pharmacists who sell over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products, generally being cough and cold medications, to the laboratories and companies who make the glassware necessary in the illegal ‘cooking’ process, to the law enforcement agencies which investigate and prosecute those who produce and sell the drugs.

    “We all need to work together in order to be one step ahead of the criminal networks that manufacture and sell these deadly drugs,” said Det Supt Bingham said.

    The congress was held last year in New Zealand where the Government recently introduced new legislation preventing pseudoephedrine products being accessible to the public other than by prescription.

    In NSW, Project Stop is a centralised pharmacy database system, which provides pharmacists with an enhanced ability to identify suspicious requests for pseudoephedrine-containing medications. So far 60 per cent of all pharmacies are registered with the project which aims to put an end to the criminal practise of ‘pseudo running’.

    Pseudo running involves criminals obtaining the pseudoephedrine products from pharmacies using fake identities, usually along planned routes throughout the State. “Ideally if all pharmacies could be registered, that would help we in law enforcement prevent diversion of this product for more sinister uses,” Det Supt Bingham said.

    “In Queensland it was recently made mandatory that pharmacies register with this real-time database system to stop those who are trying to obtain the product illegally,” he said.

    Pseudoephedrine controls and measures will be high on the agenda at the Congress as well as discussions on organised crime involvement in chemical diversion, and the increasing patterns of freight theft of precursor chemicals around the world.

    There will be three international speakers addressing the Congress: Mr Sandeep Chawla, Ph.D, is Director, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and has a lengthy career as the chief of research at the UN;

    Thomas N Farmer is an Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and State Director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force in the United States;

    Michael McCormick is a Special Agent from the US Drug Enforcement Agency who co-ordinates chemical control strategies with DEA officers in Asia, Europe and Africa.

    For further information about the Congress please go to the website The conference starts today (Wednesday October 21) and finishes on Friday October 23 at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel in Phillips Street, Sydney.

    Media are welcome to attend the opening address of NSWPF Commissioner Andrew Scipione and Minister for Police Michael Daley between 8.50am and 9.30am in the Hotel's Grand Ballroom, Level 3. A press conference will follow.

    Media are also welcome to attend the speech of Special Agent Farmer from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Meth Task Force. 9.45am – 10.30am. It focuses on diversion trends in the USA.

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