High school students caught helping crime syndicates import illegal substances into Australia run the risk of ruining their lives, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service on Monday issued a warning after it uncovered details of two Sydney high school students allegedly recruited to collect parcels on behalf of a drug syndicate in exchange for cash.
The students, at schools in Sydney’s inner west, were allegedly paid between $ 300 and $ 500 to accept the parcels, which contained precursors to manufacture methamphetamine and were sent to their family homes.
Charges are now being considered against the two students, and Customs says it is aware of others, mainly aged between 15 and 16, being approached by the syndicate.
Mr Scipione urged parents to talk to their teenagers about the potentially damaging consequences that getting caught up with such a syndicate can have on their futures.
“You don’t have to go to jail to ruin your life forever,” Mr Scipione told ABC radio. “These people don’t give a hoot about your child.”
Customs regional director for NSW, Tim Fitzgerald, said investigators became aware of the drug syndicate targeting students in May this year.
Approaches were most commonly made via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, with students allegedly told to recruit their friends.
“It’s not been restricted to one school by any stretch,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“The syndicate are offering a quick dollar. They are offering between $ 300 and $ 500 and the student provides their address and then they collect the package.
“They syndicate members are also telling the students, because of their age, they won’t be held legally responsible. In some instances, students are thinking, ‘Well there is going to be no ramification for me; I’m going to get $ 500 and if I get caught I’m going to get let go.’ “
Mr Fitzgerald said Customs had spoken to parents, students and high school principals in the hope of stopping other students from becoming involved.
A 24-year-old man has been arrested and charged in relation to the syndicate and investigations continue.