The Western Australia (WA) Police Force recently released a video talking about the 29 handheld narcotics analyzers they purchased to perform presumptive field tests on suspected illicit substances. The devices are being used across Western Australia and enable faster, safer and more accurate testing of more than 450 substances including narcotics, precursors and cutting agents.
The video, entitled “Disrupting the Drug Supply,” shows a detective sergeant on the force, demonstrating how “these narcotics analyzers can be used by all police to detect drugs and provide police with almost instantaneous analysis of what a material is [while they are] on the side of the road.”
The Western Australia Police Force outlined in its latest annual report that one of the key issues for WA Police that has been identified and continues to be a priority is the supply and distribution of illicit drugs, particularly methamphetamine:
The supply and distribution of illicit drugs, especially methamphetamine, continue to have a significant impact on the community. The flow-on effects of methamphetamine use is significant and requires cross government cooperation to reduce both the demand and the associated harm. WA Police continues to progress the 2017-2021 Methamphetamine Action Plan focusing on preventing methamphetamine from entering the state by targeting key passage hubs, seizing methamphetamine and arresting those responsible for its supply and distribution.
This past spring, an online news site, The West Australian, cited a report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission that shows the use of the highly addictive and destructive drug meth-amphetamine in regional WA is almost double the national average and by far the highest in Australia. According to the article, Western Australia has become Australia’s “ice State” with wastewater tests revealing the west has the highest level of meth-amphetamine drug use in the country.
The article went on to say that WA’s vast coastline and proximity to Asia has made it a prime target for drug importation networks, including a record 1.2 ton importation of methamphetamine intercepted in December.
We’ve previously written about some police departments that are currently using narcotics analyzers in the field to help fight the drug crisis. These tools utilize Raman spectroscopy, a well-established analytical technique. These instruments are used in the field to identify key drugs of abuse as well as common cutting agents, precursors and emerging threats such as fentanyl, numerous fentanyl compounds including carfentanil, common street fentanyl analogs, pharmaceutical variants as well as the fentanyl precursors, NPP and ANPP.
As an extra precaution, these handheld narcotics analyzers can test unknown substances without requiring that they be removed from packaging, thereby avoiding direct contact with the substance or even the “puff’ that may result from opening the package, which could harm law enforcement officials.
Editor’s Note: To help educate law enforcement officials about the latest technologies available to help clarify the situation and determine an appropriate course of action, we’ve gathered all our educational materials and consolidated them into one section in our website titled Solutions for Law Enforcement: Narcotics, Chemical and Radiation Threats.