'New laws for drug crime'

A SUPREME court justice has flagged the need for tighter controls around the purchase of pill presses to bring laws into line with the nature of modern day drug crime.

Most pill presses are imported into Australia and, since 2010, Customs have had the power to seize imported pill presses without written approval from the Federal Government.

But under state drug law, possessing a pill press only becomes illegal when the piece of equipment is kept for the purpose of producing a dangerous drug.

The problematic overlap came to light during the sentencing of two drug traffickers in the Supreme Court in Brisbane this week.

Shaun Henry Beechey and Elie Khoury were found guilty of multiple drug charges, including trafficking and production.

Beechey had two pill presses at a home in Broadbeach Waters on the Gold Coast, which was rented purely for the commission of drugs, and had planned to produce ecstasy tablets.

A Lexus car symbol was pressed on a pill found at the home and Khoury's fingerprints were found on one of the pill presses.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson and the Crown Prosecutor deliberated on the laws surrounding the possession of a pill press, which resulted in the Crown stating Federal Parliament would be notified about the need for reform.

"If this is the way drug crime is going, and it is, then if the statute law has not been changed then it should," Justice Atkinson agreed.

In March 2010, import controls were introduced making it illegal for anyone to import a pill press without approval from the government.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said in the 2010/2011 financial year there were 55 pills presses intercepted coming into Australia, resulting in seven people prosecuted.

Most recently, between July 2011 and March 2012, there were 19 presses seized and two people charged as a result.

"The most prominent source country for seized tablet presses is China, however some machines have been sourced from Europe and the UK," the spokesman said.

Comment has been sought from the Attorney-General's department.