Crime Stoppers Victoria is urging the public to share what they know about the drug trade in a bid to tackle organised crime syndicates as part of its National Illicit Drugs Campaign.
The call for information comes as new wastewater data has Victorians topping the list for consumption of the dangerous super drug fentanyl.
According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Victorians ranked first in Australia for capital city consumption of heroin, ketamine, and the highly deadly fentanyl.
Regional Victoria ranked first nationally in the consumption of heroin, and second in the consumption of fentanyl and oxycodone.
Fentanyl use is considered an epidemic in North America and is a highly addictive opioid which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine – with just 2mg enough to cause a deadly overdose.
The drug contributed to nearly 110,000 deaths in the USA last year alone and is often mixed into cocaine and heroin by drug dealers to increase profit margins – leaving unsuspecting drug users at an even higher risk of harm.
Crime Stoppers Victoria Chief Executive Stella Smith said organised crime syndicates who were distributing harmful drugs such as fentanyl had the potential to devastate Victoria.
“We’ve already seen the high-harm that illicit drugs such as ice can have on our community, with fentanyl the latest drug to potentially destroy the lives of individuals and families,” she said.
“On an almost weekly basis we are seeing significant drug busts by authorities. This highlights the level outlaw motorcycle gangs and other organised crime groups are willing to go to as they attempt to harm Victorians through their greed of making a profit.
“These drug syndicates don’t care about the health and safety of Victorians – they only care about making money.
“If you don’t think the drug trade affects you – think again. From increased family violence incidents to aggravated burglaries, extreme violence, motor vehicle theft, road trauma and a lack of health professionals due to drug overdoses, the illicit drug trade affects everyone and is a scourge on our society.”
Ms Smith said those operating in the drug trade often reach a point where they feel in over their head and have threats of violence made to them or their families – with Crime Stoppers offering them a lifeline to anonymously share what they know.
“If you’re in over your head or looking for a way out, if you make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers, those people will never know it was you who saved yourself,” Ms Smith said.
Ms Smith also said employees involved in the freight, logistics and security industries were being urged to make a report to Crime Stoppers if they see suspicious activity.
“These industries are being increasingly targeted by organised crime and we’re asking anyone who sees anything suspicious to make a report to Crime Stoppers,” she said.
“From large shipments being paid for in cash, to colleagues becoming secretive, interested in restricted areas or showing off extravagant items, even a small piece of information could ultimately lead to more arrests and a safer community.”
Victoria Police Acting Assistant Commissioner, Karen Nyholm, said police had zero tolerance for drug traffickers of any kind, “especially those who prey on the vulnerable and deal drugs which cause the most damage in our communities.”
“As part of ongoing efforts to disrupt the drug trade, local detectives across the state work closely with our counterparts in Crime Command, including Victoria Police’s Major Drug Squad, Clandestine Laboratory Squad and the Melbourne-based Joint Organised Crime Task Force led by the AFP,” she said.
“Information provided via Crime Stoppers Victoria is critical in identifying and progressing investigations into serious criminal offences, including drug trafficking, manufacturing, and cultivation.
“Without the assistance of the community providing key information to Crime Stoppers, many investigations would continue to go unsolved.”