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New Drug Testing Tools Trialled At the Border

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister of Customs
10 May 2013 Media Statement

New Drug Testing Tools Trialled At the Border

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson says a trial of new drug testing tools at the border has been a success.

About 70 white powders are intercepted by Customs each month and up to 40 are referred to Environmental Science and Research for further testing.

“The joint trial by Customs and ESR saw state of the art drug identification devices and ESR staff deployed to the border for four weeks to identify white powders on the spot.”

Ninety-four samples were tested and half were identified immediately. Those identified included MDMA, heroin, methylone, testosterone and newer substances such as synthetic cannabinoids XLR-11 and RCS-04.

Twenty-nine unknown substances were detected, with some detected multiple times.  Fourteen were identified as possible analogues of cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids due to chemical similarities.  Another three were identified, and two tentatively identified, through further analysis.

“Chemical formulations change rapidly to evade detection and mimic other drugs, and Customs often sends these off for testing to put a name to them.

“With this trial, Customs saw how enhanced on-site capabilities can speed up the process of identifying what’s legal and what’s definitely, or probably, not.

“On the spot testing also leads to faster decisions around what further investigations or actions are needed.

“Discussions are underway for a permanent operation,” Mr Williamson says.


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