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Dealers use Victorian public transport for drug trafficking

Date

Tammy Mills

Drug dealers regularly use Victoria's public transport to traffic illicit substances, police say.

In one case, a train conductor monitored the movements of a man who travelled to Melbourne from a northern Victorian town three times a week to pick up drugs, while police in other parts of the state say dealers are carrying more than $10,000 worth of methamphetamine in their pockets.

"Large amounts are getting trafficked in the state on a regular basis and it's not high-tech," a police source said.

"You're not getting stopped, you're not going through customs, you're not getting checked."

A conductor at a station in Victoria's north monitored the movements of one dealer for six months.

He said alarm bells went off when he spotted wads of $100 notes in the pocket of a man who was paying for a discounted train ticket with a healthcare card.

He was also travelling to Melbourne three times a week, taking the 6am V/Line service and only staying in the city for an hour-and-a-half before coming back.

"He was asked one day what he was doing and he said he had a sick mother in Melbourne," the conductor said. "If you've got a sick mother in Melbourne you don't go there for an hour."

He passed on six months of surveillance to police, and they made an arrest.

The young man was nabbed for transporting amphetamines on the rail line under the nose of authorities. His backpack of drugs sat alongside everyday passengers.

While there has been at least one case of a man vacuum-sealing kilograms of cannabis and carrying it in a suitcase on the train, police say methamphetamine is now the drug of choice.

Police say they are investigating reports of dealers carrying ice in packages small enough to fit in a pants pocket, but that can be cut into more than 250 individual deals and make a profit of more than $10,000.

"We have had seizures in relation to drugs being hidden inside the linings of cars, whereas you can jump on a bus or jump on a train and not have to do anything other than stick it in your pocket," the police source said.

Protective services officers have begun working at regional stations including Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong stations.

V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos said conductors and station staff reported suspicious behaviour to the security manager who liaised with the transit police.

"They (station staff) are trained in all aspects of customer service and have the skills to diffuse difficult situations and detect suspicious behaviour," Mr Taifalos said.

He said co-operation between V/Line and police has "proved successful" with graffiti vandals recently arrested following attacks on trains last month and drug-detection dogs used at the Bendigo station during a music festival this month.

There was no overwhelming amount of intelligence suggesting that drugs were being trafficked ''at epidemic highs'' or shifted between locations on public transport, according to a police spokesman, but transit police units ''are  proactively targeting these offences on our public transport systems to ensure they remain a safe place for the community to enjoy''.

 

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