Ice: Police power pitted against cashed-up users

p2290-ice-1By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

“Ice will get worse.” That’s the prediction of senior police officer Peter Malley who addressed a seminar about the drug in Alice Springs this morning.

 

He says its use here is less prolific than the more benign drug methamphetamine, but the “user base” has increased during his three years of work in The Alice.

 

He says the effects of ice is devastating, making users “erratic, irrational and paranoid,” giving the user “increased strength and endurance”.

 

But the effects on the community, and domestic violence, can extend to “economic abuse” to fund the users’ addiction.

 

The local hospital is dealing with three cases of ice-induced drug psychosis a month. Nevertheless, alcohol remains the number one problem,  says Detective Senior Sergeant Malley.

 

Users are often “cashed up tradies” who work long hours. Often “it gets out of control and they have no job any more”.

 

Local police are collaborating across borders with SA police, and has significant powers to stop and search, “kick down doors”.

 

They have confiscated from dealers millions of dollars worth of houses, cars and other property – an effective provision of recent legislation that can even reach beyond a jail term.

 

However, it seems recovery of ice – worth around $27,500 an ounce – is still low: In 2015 so far, 17 ounces in Darwin and seven in Alice Springs.

 

Sen Sgt Malley says there’s not much cocaine in Alice Springs, but some came to town with the NATS crowd recently.

 

Cannabis possession of less than 50 grams is likely to attract a $250 fine; 500 plus grams is regarded as commercial and if convicted you’re likely to go behind bars.

 

Not much cannabis is grown in the area. It usually comes from Adelaide. There is a lot of it in the bush – but no ice.

 

In WA there is some evidence that when dope is not available, domestic violence increases. Growing it hydroponically is easy and penalties are low.

 

Drugs get to The Centre mostly by road and air. It appears a fair amount is getting through. There seems to be no end to the inventiveness of dealers – such as turning half the fuel tank into a hiding place.

 

Sniffer dogs are very effective: Putting drugs into sealed glass jars doesn’t work as handlers usually open them.

 

 

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