Drug Seizures and Arrests
Mrs KARYN PALUZZANO: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Police. What is the latest information on drug seizures and arrests in New South Wales?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Upper Hunter to order.
Mr CARL SCULLY: We are all aware drugs are a devastating curse on our society. Drug addiction leads to crime and, unfortunately, in many cases it can lead to death. That is why we all support our police in their fight against the scourge of drugs. I want to report to the House about last year's tremendous efforts by NSW Police in fighting against drugs and the crimes associated with them. In 2004 NSW Police seized 5.7 tonnes of cannabis, more than 50,000 cannabis plants, 380 kilograms of ecstasy, 24 kilograms of amphetamines, 10 kilograms of cocaine, and just five kilograms of heroin, reflecting the heroin drought under way in Sydney since late 2000. NSW Police made more than 12,000 drug-related arrests last year and smashed many drug-manufacturing operations.
Fifty-three clandestine laboratories were located and shut down—that is just over one a week. These laboratories can be used for simple processes such as extracting cannabis oil from plants, or more complex procedures involving several chemicals and a range of equipment to make speed and ecstasy. As I have said on other occasions in this House, the other area in which police are making serious inroads is the production of hydroponic cannabis in suburban homes. In 2003 only seven hydroponic houses were detected. Last year that number jumped to 77. In 2004 police seized more than 11,000 cannabis plants and 71.6 kilograms of cut cannabis leaf from hydro houses. Those drugs would have been worth more than $38 million on the street.
Other drug investigations conducted by the State Crime Command and local area commands resulted in the seizure of more than 41,000 cannabis plants and almost four tonnes of cannabis leaf. These operations netted a cannabis haul worth an estimated $83 million on the street. Police arrested 66 people as part of these investigations. Success has also been achieved with the Cannabis Eradication Program, which has led to the arrest of 13 people, and the seizure and eradication of some 12,000 plants with an estimated street value of more than $20 million. Another drug police have targeted is ecstasy. Ecstasy is attractive to young people, who take it for its mood-altering effects or the alleged attainment of euphoric feelings. Unfortunately, however, the drug has side-effects. I am not sure to what extent young people know about those side-effects, but they can be quite serious. That is why we should all support police in endeavouring to find out where ecstasy use is occurring and seizing it where it is being produced. Last year 340 kilograms of ecstasy was seized at Sydney Airport, worth an estimated $68 million on the street.
Another problem is pseudoephedrine. As members may be aware, many pseudo-runners are employed by illegal drug manufacturers to purchase cold and flu tablets. The pseudoephedrine in those tablets is then used to produce amphetamines. Police have been quite successful in dealing with this problem. In fact, last year more than 66,000 pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets were seized and 63 pseudo-runners were arrested. Police have been working well with the pharmacy community in addressing this issue. The Government has given police powers to deal with drugs, and to attack and weed out offending drug manufacturers. The Disorderly Houses Amendment (Commercial Supply of Prohibited Drugs) Act 2002, the Police Powers (Drug Premises) Act 2001, and the Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 are examples of the Government being fair dinkum about dealing with drugs in our community. On behalf of us all, I congratulate NSW Police on a job well done.