Where Did Those Drugs in My Workplace Come From?

Amphetamine, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Heroin, Methamphetamine, Marijuana, Oxycodone, STP, MDMA…

The litany of illicit drugs is long, a bit overwhelming, and can make any employer wonder how it is possible to successfully manage drug and alcohol testing in the workplace. Have you ever wondered how these drugs are getting into Australia and eventually the workplace?

It is not possible to answer that question with a single response because of the variety of ways illicit drugs are imported. The creativity and innovative methods of drug smugglers are almost legendary. Sometimes the smuggling efforts involve small quantities of drugs. For example, in 2007 Australian Customs officers found 293 grams of ecstasy tablets inside a child’s toy called Mr Potato Head. An action man figure had 50 grams of cocaine hidden inside of the body.1

Though any quantity of illegal drugs are worthy of concern, it is the organized crime syndicates that smuggle enormous quantities into the country for resale by drug dealers.  The Mexican drug cartel named Sinaloa is smuggling 500 kilos of cocaine into Australia every month. The entry points are along the west coast. The cartel has been smuggling drugs into Australia for approximately 30 months.2 Considering the fact this particular cartel has been in operation since 1980, Australia is a relatively new market.

Typically the drug manufacturing and export business runs just like a corporation. For example, the Australian Crime Commission reports that Peru, Bolivia and Colombia are the main producers of cocaine. The cocaine is then shipped to an embarkation country. Mexico is the main embarkation point for Australia’s cocaine though there are others like the USA, Argentina and Panama to name a few.3 Canada is also a main embarkation point for cocaine smuggling to Australia.

Both cocaine and heroin are smuggled into Australia, but not all drugs are imported. Some are manufactured in Australia in clandestine laboratories (clan labs). The Australian Crime Commission’s Illicit Drug Data Report 2008-09 reported that 449 clan labs were found throughout Australia. This represents almost three times the number of clan labs found early in the decade.3

The drugs are manufactured using precursor chemicals like safrole oil used to make MDMA.3 MDMA stands for methylenedioxymethamphetamine and is commonly called ecstasy. This powerful drug is a stimulant and a hallucinogenic. Amphetamines are manufactured in and imported to Australia as finished drugs or as precursor chemicals.

Smuggled drugs reach Australia as sea cargo and parcel post shipments. They are hidden in imported products as mentioned like toys, toner cartridges, clothes and just about any other item you can think of.

Once your employees purchase illicit drugs, it is a simple matter to carry them into the workplace which is precisely why workplace drug testing is so important. Employers have a right to feel embattled because the quantity and variety of drugs continues to grow. Staying ahead of the drug trade is the main goal of firms like CMM Technology at www.cmm.com.au which specialises in drug testing.

As you can imagine, it takes sophisticated market studies and an understanding of common drug use practices to develop state-of-the-art drug testing devices like the Medix Pro-Split Cup 6+6 with Adulterant Tests. This affordable product tests for 6 drug classes and 6 adulterants as named in Australian standards, but can be manufactured to test up to 10 drugs classes in a singles use test. Just the fact that a drug testing product can test as many as 10 drugs is emblematic of the substance abuse problem that exists today.


1 Akut, C. (2007, October 4). Australian Cops Seize Illegal Drugs Smuggled in Mr Potato Head, Action Man Toys. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from All Headline News: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7008720524

2 Latin American Herald Tribune. (2011, February 18). Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel Smuggling Cocaine into Australia. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from Latin American Herald Tribune: http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=366641&CategoryId=14091

3 Australian Crime Commission. (2011, February). Frequenntly Asked Media Quesstions on Illicit Drugs. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from Australian Crime Commission: http://www.crimecommission.gov.au/media/faq/illicit_drugs.htm

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