Shut border drives up illicit drug costs
HIGHER risk associated with trafficking drugs across Queensland's closed borders could be behind a hike in prices across the Gold Coast, a lawyer says.
Only four of the 17 border crossings the Gold Coast shares with New South Wales are open with restrictions, while flights into the southeast have decreased dramatically.
Prominent Gold Coast lawyer Campbell MacCallum, of Moloney MacCallum Abdelshahied Lawyers, said recent police investigations had seen street deal prices for ice and cocaine shift from about $250-300 to $400-450 per gram.
He said traditionally Queensland's ice and cocaine supply would come from Sydney and Melbourne but restrictions had put cross-border trafficking under the microscope.
"There's one thing for sure: the prices have increased in terms of the street value in … the Gold Coast and in Queensland due to the border controls," he said.
It's understood traffickers are reluctant to travel, and those who will do so at a premium, charging more for the product, and for travel fees which is then passed on to the customer.
Drug and Serious Crime Group Detective Acting Superintendent Colin Briggs said there was anecdotal evidence suggesting prices had increased, but could not say what drugs, or where.
"There's some indications that may be because of difficulties in sourcing drugs because of the border closures," he said.
"However, there's also the potential that it could be for other reasons, such as people taking the opportunity as part of this to inflate prices."
Act Supt Briggs said it was clear people were still attempting to bring drugs across the border, as was the case when a man was busted at a traffic stop allegedly carrying 93kg of cannabis in April.
A month later, 45kg of cannabis, with an approximate street value of $400,000, was found in a truck at a border stop in Coolangatta.
Act Supt Briggs said it's not unexpected to see a disruption to the southeast Queensland drug network with the borders closed and guarded by police.
"And I guess what we've seen anecdotally is because of that situation, because of the places that are closed … we may have had an impact in terms of people being reluctant to try and transport drugs across the border," he said.
Act Supt Briggs said it was too early to tell whether people were turning to the dark web for drugs.
Detectives are continuing to target drug offending throughout the COVID-19 period.
Originally published as Shut border drives up illicit drug costs