Mexican drug cartels move into Australia

A "DARK network" of international drug cartels is flooding Australia with drugs and guns, according to a new report.

University of Canberra assistant professor of government Dr Anthea McCarthy-Jones found Australia was no longer protected by the "tyranny of distance", with Mexican cartels targeting the country because of its high prices for drugs.

She said cocaine was about five times more expensive in Australia than the US and this had given cartels the leeway to offer local bikie gangs "sweeteners" such as illegal handguns and other arms.

"Australia commands some of the highest prices (wholesale and retail) for illicit drugs in the world," she said.

"While there are greater transportation costs and other miscellaneous expenses associated with distribution to Asia Pacific markets, the revenue gained from accessing these markets far outweighs the initial outlays and costs on the part of the cartels."

Dr McCarthy-Jones said policymakers needed to focus on gaining intelligence from key transit hubs in the South Pacific region.

The Federal Police launched Operation Revere - a joint crack-down on maritime drug importation with customs and Victoria Police - in October 2011

A spokesman said the operation had resulted in the seizure of 13 firearms, 138kg of the drug ice and 15kg of cocaine, which was concealed as liquid in beer bottles imported from Mexico to Melbourne.

"Over the past three years the AFP has seen an increase in the number of methamphetamine seizures originating from Mexico," the spokesman said.

"The AFP and its partners have seen an increase in low weight, high frequency methods of importation, such as utilising parcel post.

"Chemical signatures of recent seizures suggest that a significant amount of methamphetamine coming into Australia may originate in Mexico, though it may appear to come from trans-shipment points in other countries."

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