Drug dealers regularly use Victoria’s regional rail system including V/Line’s Ballarat line to traffic illicit substances, police sources say.
In one case, a train conductor monitored the movements of a man who travelled to Melbourne from a northern Victorian town three times a week to pick up drugs, while police in other parts of the state say dealers are carrying more than $10,000 worth of methamphetamine in their pockets.
‘’Large amounts are getting trafficked in the state on a regular basis and it’s not high-tech,’’ a police source said, on the condition of anonymity.
‘’You’re not getting stopped, you’re not going through customs, you’re not getting checked.’’
A conductor at a station in Victoria’s north monitored the movements of one dealer for six months.
He said alarm bells went off when he spotted wads of $100 notes in the pocket of a man who was paying for a discounted train ticket with a healthcare card.
He was also travelling to Melbourne three times a week, taking the 6am V/Line service and only staying in the city for an hour-and-a-half before coming back.
‘’He was asked one day what he was doing and he said he had a sick mother in Melbourne,’’ the conductor said. ‘’If you’ve got a sick mother in Melbourne, you don’t go there for an hour.’’
He passed on six months of surveillance to police and they made an arrest.
The young man was nabbed for transporting amphetamines on the rail line under the nose of authorities. His backpack of drugs sat alongside every-day passengers.
However, a Victoria Police spokesperson said there was no overwhelming amount of intelligence to suggest drug trafficking at high levels on public transport or public transport being used to shift drugs between locations.
The spokesperson said units proactively targeted these offences on public transport systems to ensure they remain safe.
V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos said conductors and station staff reported suspicious behaviour to the security manager who liaised with the transit police.
‘’They (station staff) are trained in all aspects of customer service and have the skills to diffuse difficult situations and detect suspicious behaviour,’’ Mr Taifalos said.
But the anonymous police source said while there had been at least one case of a man vacuum-sealing kilograms of cannabis and carrying it in a suitcase on the train, they say methamphetamine is now the drug of choice.
Protective services officers have begun working at regional stations including Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong stations.