Spotlight on border workers as cocaine seizures soar

·1-min read
Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Cocaine seizures are racking up as authorities raise concerns about the activities of 1000 workers and 100 companies operating at border checkpoints such as seaports and airports.

Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram said his organisation was stretched as it tries to stop the import of illicit drugs.

"Cocaine shipments are being seized at the nation's borders at unprecedented levels," he told senators in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Outram said the return of travel to pre-pandemic levels also brought risks, with more than 12 million travellers coming into Australia since July along with 65 million cargo items through air and sea. 

"More movement, regrettably, brings more threats," he said.

The commissioner said new technology was increasing detection rates but wastewater testing showed authorities were only stopping between 20 to 25 per cent of imports.

Detections of illegal drugs and precursors at the border increased by just under 20 per cent between July 1, 2022 and the end of February this year, compared to the year before.