, Vienna Customs: 80 % increase in drug confiscations

Vienna (OTS) – In 2019, the Viennese customs officers were able to successfully continue their fight against mail-order drug crime: 73.7 kg and 19,367 units of addictive substances were picked up from various consignments at the Inzersdorf letter centre. “I would like to thank all our customs officers for their valuable efforts in the fight against crime. From the increasing numbers, we can see how important the regular checks of the mails are,” says Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

The seized contraband comprised a wide range of illegal drugs: psychotropic substances from amphetamines through cannabis and cocaine to heroin and ketamine as well as ecstasy, LSD and MDMA were sent by mail. This represents an increase by almost 80 % over 2018, when 41,219 grams and 26,594 units of narcotic drugs were seized from postal items, in many cases leading the police to investigative successes.

The “Darknet” as a trading centre

In Austria, online trade in prohibited substances has by now become a common form of addictive-drug crime. Individual offenders as well as criminal organisations make use of Darknet marketplaces to conduct their organised drug trafficking and generate their ill-gotten profits. The alarming trend was already evident in the number of confiscations in recent years. In 2017, 7,499 grams and 2,910 units of illegal drugs were picked up from the mails, while in 2016 it was 5,970 grams and 2,931 units of narcotic drugs.

Service dogs as indispensable helpers in the fight against drug crime

Indispensable helpers in finding the drugs are the service dogs of the Austrian customs offices. The service dogs employed stay with the parcel and thus notify their handlers that there are suspicious substances in the shipment. The subsequent opening and the drug tests carried out confirm the drug confiscations. The consignments seized by customs are handed over to the police for further action under the Austrian Narcotic Substances Act.

Cooperation between police services and customs administration is crucial in the fight against drug-related crime. On 01 January 2020, the Federal Criminal Police Office set up a special working group to combat online trading in banned substances, in which the Vienna Customs Office is also participating.