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New drug analyser to save time and money

New drug analyser to save time and money

Closeup of the FirstDefender

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says the introduction of a new state of the art drug analyser will free up hundreds of hours a year for more enforcement work at the border.

The handheld device, a Thermo Scientific FirstDefender RM, shoots a laser beam into an unknown substance, accurately identifying it in a matter of seconds. Customs purchased it with money recovered under the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery) Act.

“The device will drastically reduce the number of substances that have to be sent away for expensive testing, with savings expected to pay for it in less than six months.

“Its effectiveness will allow Customs officers to spend at least 520 more hours each year on frontline border work because they can make decisions quickly on what investigative action, if any, is required.

Prime Minister John Key allocated $335,000 to Customs in the first proceeds of crime funding round to enhance frontline screening at the border. In addition to the drug analyser, Customs is building a laboratory in Auckland to test unidentified chemical samples.

“The enhanced capability will help to achieve outcomes sought in the government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan and allow Customs to identify an increasing number of new psychoactive substances stopped at the border,” Ms Wagner says.

More than 11,000 substances can be identified almost instantly by the FirstDefender analyser. It can penetrate through certain types of packaging, so opening a packet or bottle may not be necessary, which also means a safer working environment for officers.


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