An urgent warning has been issued for young Aussies ahead of schoolies after an increase in detections of a powerful drug entering Australia.
Known as metonitazene, the synthetic opioid is more powerful than fentanyl and hundreds of times more potent than morphine.
Australian Border Force noticed an increase of the drug, with yellow and green pills concealed in parcels coming through international mail.
The urgent warning comes as thousands of high school students prepare to celebrate the end of their final year across Australia.
The first wave of schoolies kicks off on November 18 and will last several weeks with the wild celebrations ending in mid-December.
Known as metonitazene, the synthetic opioid is more powerful than fentanyl and hundreds of times more potent than morphine
Officers have stopped 24 importations of the drug – 22 of those coming in the last month and only two in the nine months previous to October.
ABF Acting Commander Ian Kelly said the increase in detections of metonitazene was worrying, with concerns the drug is being imported to be sold at schoolies.
‘This is concerning with schoolies celebrations about to begin in states across the country if the intention was to import this drug in an attempt to sell to young people,’ Commander Kelly said.
Commander Kelly explained metonitazene was often disguised as other drugs which is problematic for the user as they do not necessarily know what they are ingesting.
He added the pills were sent in small amounts and concealed in a number of items including bandages, medical adhesives and children’s toys.
It comes after the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested a Northern Territory man for allegedly importing metonitazene through the mail from the United Kingdom.
The 39-year-old man faced Darwin Local Court on October 30 charged with importing a a border controlled drug.
ABF Acting Commander Ian Kelly said the increase in detections of metonitazene was worrying, with concerns the drug is being imported to be sold at schoolies (stock image)
The AFP launched an investigation into the contents of the package after receiving a referral from the Commonwealth Agencies Operation Centre.
Australian Border Force officers in New South Wales examined an international mail consignment and allegedly found five grams of the illicit drug concealed in a vacuum sealed package.
Police searched the man’s home in Gray, a suburb 23km south east of Darwin’s CBD, and seized a number of opioids, illicit substances and electronic devices.
The man is facing a maximum penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.