Heroin: Illicit drug or weapon of social destruction?

Mr Terry Flanders1

1Investigation Systems Pty Ltd, Blacktown, Australia

Counterintuitively, failure can be a learning pathway to success.  Soon our society will have an opportunity to revisit past failures.  Talabani rebels are harvesting more opium now than before.  2017 opium production has increased 87% from 2016 levels.  When released, society will be flooded with heroin increasing crime rates.  Russia weaponised social media during the 2016 American Presidential elections.  Will the Taliban do the same, making heroin truly a weapon of social destruction?

Illicit drug programs in the 1990’s failed to reduce the crimes and costs associated with illicit drug-use.  By 2018 heroin use and property crimes had fallen dramatically yet crime costs associated with illicit drug use were estimated at $14.4B (AUD).

First response agencies (police, fire brigade, ambulance) are where academia, government and industry intersect with the community.  Findings from two 2018 government inquiries (Federal & NSW) identified poor management practices within first responder agencies as resulting in suicides, low performance levels and high dis-engagements. Crime costs include social costs attributable to illicit drug use.  Funds diverted from law enforcement to pay for social costs arising from enforcing laws are not included.  What will be the social cost to police officers should crime rates return to pre-2002 levels?

Now is the time to plan and prepare.  From past failures, success now would include legalising illicit drug use and re-imagining new rehabilitation programs based on social responsibility. A start would be re-calculating the true cost of crime on society and those that enforce the laws.


Leading criminal investigations targeting illicit drug production, supply and use, applies similar methodologies to ethnographic research, except your research findings are peer reviewed by the judicial system.

With 15 years ‘ethnographic’ experience researching illicit drug syndicates both here and overseas, Terry left law enforcement in 1999 and now provides security advice so businesses can better protect assets.  Security is about the protection of assets.  Nationally harmonized health and safety legislation identifies people as the primary workplace asset making WHS offences a new type of white-collar crime.

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