Organized Crime At Aussie Airports

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An Australian parliamentary committee has been told that organized crime has walked through gaping holes in the country's aviation and marine security apparatus to become entrenched participants in all aspects of security operations, from baggage handlers up to and including customs agents. Representatives of unions, airlines and ground support service companies told the committee that, essentially, criminals have the run of airports in Australia and use them as key elements of their smuggling and distribution efforts. "The potential for a trusted insider (airport/airline employees, contractors, security personnel, retailers and so on) to circumvent security measures and use their knowledge of the environment is an ongoing consideration for aviation industry participants," Qantas, Australia's largest airline, said in its submission.

The committee was told that less than 1 percent of cargo is screened and catering services are never checked. The Australian Federal Police Association claims the voluntary "declare" or "nothing to declare" customs arrivals system allows crime groups to send drug-carrying "mules" through airports from other countries with little chance they'll be challenged. Politicians didn't seem all that surprised, including committee chairman Steve Hutchins, a Labor Party senator. "We are not at all impressed about what appears to be the ease with which people are able to access maritime cards let alone aviation security cards," he told The Sunday Mail. "Over the years, it's been proven that on the waterfront and in airports, there are clearly people who have links to organised and serious crime."