French man who tried smuggling Vegemite-smeared drugs into Melbourne music festival faces deportation

By @shauryaarya1 on
Drugs
A customs officer displays Captagon pills, part of the 789 kilogrammes (1739 pounds) of confiscated drugs, before its incineration in Sofia, 12, 2007. Reuters/Nikolay Doychinov

A French drug trafficker who put Vegemite on bags of drugs at a Melbourne music festival was caught and is now facing deportation. A sniffer dog detected the drug smeared with Vegemite at the Electric Parade Festival on Feb. 28.

Twenty-two-year-old Romain Franche, working as a Yarra Rover gondolier and French vintage furniture salesman, was caught by the police. He lives in Melbourne and is studying in a business school.

According to AAP (via Yahoo 7), he had $3,000 worth of MDMA, acid, ketamine, ecstasy, hashish and cocaine in his possession. He was convicted and imposed with a $4,000 fine for trafficking MDMA, acid, ketamine, ecstasy and cocaine.

He spent five days in custody and was released following the hearing. His deportation comes in four weeks time.

The Electric Parade Festival in Melbourne was described by Ambulance Victoria State Health Commander Paul Holman as “awash with drugs.” He added the people who had consumed drugs had a serious risk of death. “It's the highest number of overdoses we have seen at a music event for some time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the methamphetamine crisis in Western Australia has become a grave problem, which can largely be attributed to the state’s “soft” borders, according to Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan. WA’s almost 20,000 kilometres of what O’Callaghan said was empty shoreline is a vulnerable target that can be used by drug smugglers. He added more boats and personnel need to be deployed by the Commonwealth.

A large quantity of these drugs is shipped from countries including China, where most of the drugs traded in Australia are produced. A boat was able to reach close to Geraldton undetected last year. Following inquiries, the drugs were seized in Perth by the authorities. In 2015, as many as 320 kilogrammes of meth was recovered in Perth brought in a boat.

“WA has one of the biggest challenges of any State because it has 20,000 kilometres of coastline,” O’Callaghan said. “That needs to be solved by a bigger investment by the Commonwealth.”

O’Callaghan’s comments came on the heels of Premier Colin Barnett’s assertion that high incomes stemming from the mining boom was one of the largest contributors for the drug crisis in the state. Barnett’s remarks came during the Leaders’ Debate on Wednesday.

"I think it's an interpretation. There is no evidence or data that proves that is the case," O’Callaghan said, speaking with 6PR radio. "Why (usage) hasn't changed with a change in the economy, I don't know. Perhaps people are hooked now and they have no choice."

However, the police commissioner said high incomes were only part of the overall problem. A greater factor is the availability of drugs.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said on Wednesday she had discussions with her Federal counterparts concerning the pressing urgency of tightening WA’s borders.