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Feature: Regional international drug enforcement conferences

In 2018–19, Australia agreed to host two Far East Region International Drug Enforcement Conferences (IDECs) on behalf of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). We worked together with the Australian Federal Police and the DEA to arrange two successful events.

Regional IDECs are held around the world in order to exchange information and strengthen regional relationships to combat drug trafficking and organised crime. They provide an opportunity for our senior executives to meet and develop working relationships with colleagues from the ACIC’s Asian law enforcement partners and the DEA.

We jointly hosted the first regional IDEC in September 2018, in Cairns. The acting United States Ambassador to Australia, James Carouso, officially opened the meeting, which was attended by 95 senior law enforcement officials from 15 countries, including Australia, the United States and countries across Asia.

In March 2019, 110 delegates from 16 countries attended the second regional IDEC, in Perth. The Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, opened the event and spoke on the conference theme of cooperation and collaboration in the region.

The highlight of the event was a special presentation by former DEA agents Javier Pena and Stephen Murphy, who helped capture Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Their story is told in the first season of the Netflix series Narcos. Javier and Stephen told the audience the true story behind Colombia’s infamously violent and powerful drug cartels.

Delegates also heard presentations on illicit tobacco, our National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program and trends in maritime smuggling, as well as receiving updates on the drug situations in Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Myanmar, Korea and Japan and attending bilateral meetings to discuss drugs and cooperation.

The opportunity to host the regional IDECs has continued to strengthen the relationships between our agency, the Australian Federal Police and the DEA. The Republic of Korea will host the 2019–20 regional IDEC meetings.