Figures show that smarter screening helped Customs seize more illegal packages than ever before.
Customs officers stopped almost 250,000 weapons, including more than 1100 guns and gun parts, and more than three tonnes of drugs and precursor chemicals from entering Australia last year.
Figures provided to Fairfax Media show that smarter screening has helped customs seize more illegal packages than ever before.
In 2007-08, there were 6.2 million inspections of air cargo, with 870 packages containing illegal goods found. Four years later, there were more than 2000 packages found from only 1.5 million inspections.
Customs and Border Protection acting chief executive officer Michael Pezzullo said drug seizures had doubled in the past year.
''We use technology to build and share our intelligence picture with our partner agencies and to directly target criminal activity,'' Mr Pezzullo said.
''We have officers posted overseas and embedded within other agencies, working on joint operations to disrupt organised criminal syndicates.''
As a drug trafficking scandal engulfs customs officers at Sydney Airport, it is believed an increased focus on intelligence-based interceptions has reduced the influence corrupt officials can have on screening packages.
The Australian Federal Police arrested another man on Wednesday as part of Operation Marca – the codename given to a probe focusing on drug importation and corruption.
There have now been 11 people arrested, with Fairfax revealing on Wednesday that up to four customs officers suspected of involvement in corruption remain working at the airport.
Mr Pezzullo said focusing on intelligence gathering in the past five years had led to an increase in the number of illegal packages detected, while the total number of inspections had dropped. More than 80 per cent of illicit drug and precursors seizures and 85 per cent of firearm seizures were made because of intelligence.
While Mr Pezzullo could not detail the exact methods used to triage packages, he said an intelligence picture linking parcels to crime groups was developed by using technology, information gathering and working with international agencies.
''It's the work our officers do before the border that's crucial to ensuring we can target the right people, mail and containers – catching those who seek to break the law, while minimising the impact on legitimate trade and travel,'' he said.