Crime kingpins cash in on our region as fake drug sales rise

REGIONAL Queensland is a rich hunting ground for drug lords intent on expanding their criminal empires.

A new Crime and Corruption Commission report reveals the sale and distribution of illicit drugs "remains the most pervasive form" of organised crime across the state.

The Illicit Drug Markets in Queensland:2015-16 Intelligence Assessment shows drug kingpins are churning out huge amounts of crystal meth, performance-enhancing drugs and synthetic hallucinogens to feed the market outside of Brisbane.

CCC executive director crime Kathleen Florian said high demand for these types of drugs and resulting strong profits made regional Queensland an attractive market for criminals from Brisbane, Sydney and South-East Asia.

Ms Florian said the decreased availability of traditional illicit drugs in regional areas meant "new and emerging psychoactive substance" sales were taking off.

These drugs are made to mimic LSD, ecstasy, marijuana or cocaine, and considered more dangerous than the real deal because they are made of unknown chemicals and are not subject to rigorous human consumption tests.

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The deaths of two Mackay men early last year were linked to synthetic cannabis and there have been anecdotal reports of many people falling ill after consuming other synthetics.

"The synthetic drugs are an issue for us in the regions because where the supply of traditional illicit drugs is not constant or it's patchy, they (users) will take the synthetic drugs," Ms Florian told ARM Newsdesk.

"We find that where drug users have an option for traditional or synthetic drugs, they will prefer to use the traditional illicit drugs," she said.

Ms Florian said it was particularly hard policing the supply of synthetic drugs because the manufacturers were constantly changing their products.

"It's such an evolving and dynamic illicit drug market - they're constantly producing new drugs," she said.

Ms Florian said by analysing the state of drugs in Queensland, policy makers and police were able to better target resources.

The State Government plans to roll out new laws to tackle organised crime.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said when announcing changes to the Criminal Organisations Act: "They will empower police to bring down individuals in criminal organisations, be they child sex predators, drug traffickers, boiler-room fraudsters or outlaw motorcycle gangs."



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