Organised crime gangs used food delivery services to deal drugs across Australia

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Organised crime gangs across Australia have infiltrated food delivery services to deal drugs as a bold response to the decreased access to users throughout the pandemic.

A parliamentary committee has focused on how criminal enterprises have adapted and responded to the extraordinary social impacts of Covid-19, with its chair describing how drugs have been delivered directly to front doors across the country.

The committee, led by Brisbane Liberal MP Julian Simmonds, has been told how organised crime groups have been “very adaptive and clever” in the use of the “unregulated food delivery industry”.

“There’s a lot of app food delivery drivers coming to people’s doors, and it’s a largely unregulated industry at the moment,” the chair told NCA NewsWire.

“When organised criminal gangs see a lack of regulation they will see a way in and they will take advantage of it, and we saw them using that as a delivery mechanism when people were otherwise not able to move around.”

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In a report tabled in parliament this week, the committee has recommended the government considers ways to establish a clear chain of movement and possession within the delivery industry, and the chair said it was considering how it could regulate the industry.

A reduction in face-to-face contact over this period also created a reliance on encrypted communication apps.

This was targeted in the recent Operation Ironside crackdown, with Mr Simmonds saying the Morrison government is working new surveillance legislation through parliament to more closely monitor encrypted avenues of communication.

“Law enforcement has to be nimble in order to keep up with them,” the Member for Ryan said.

“What is particularly concerning to me is the rise of the encrypted telecommunications – it’s incredibly hard for law enforcement to crack, and it requires extra powers that have to move through the parliament.”

Operation Ironside, the wide scale crackdown on organised crime from the Australian Federal Police and FBI from the United States, was “incredibly significant for two reasons”, according to Mr Simmonds.

“There were over 200 arrests and 500 charges laid and that obviously smashes a good portion of organised crime in Australia,” he said.

“But it’s not just the people the AFP has pulled off the street, it’s also the disruptive effect.

“Those still engaging in organised crime have now got a lot more reasons to be suspicious of their fellow travellers in criminal enterprises, they’ve got a lot more reasons to be suspicious of their encrypted phones.”


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