Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) CEO, Michael Pezzullo, spoke at a recent Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee meeting to give an update on progress in fighting corruption within the service. Several officers now face criminal charges for alleged crimes including importing border-controlled substances, accepting bribes and drug imports. Despite the measures taken to counter these activities, Mr Pezzullo said he expects similar arrests in the future. “Regrettably, in view of current and future operations which are known to me, these are not likely to be the last arrests and charges that we will see in relation to officers of the service,” he said.
“We continue to roll out drug and alcohol testing of officers, integrity testing, and mandatory reporting of serious misconduct, corrupt or criminal behaviour by our officers, amongst other measures.”

Since January 31 this year, 1266 drug and alcohol tests of officers have been conducted which resulted in five verified positive tests. Other methods of testing have provided positive results on two more officers during the same period. One has since resigned and the other has been suspended without pay. Last year’s pilot phase of the testing program returned a positive result of one officer for cannabis whose employment was then terminated. Two other officers gave verified positive drug tests for cocaine, ending with both handing in their resignations.

Mr Pezzullo added: “The taking of illicit drugs by officers of the service is completely unacceptable. With random drug and alcohol testing and targeted testing now in place, and testing being conducted in relation to officers at all levels of the service (me included), the message is very clear: you will be tested; and if you are found to be using illicit drugs you will lose your job.”