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Snakes and crocodiles guarding Australian drug crops: report

Australian drug dealers are reportedly using poisonous snakes and crocodiles to guard their drug crops from police and thieves.
crocodile attacks australiaEnlarge
A no-swimming sign warning of crocodiles is seen at Finch Bay in Queensland, Australia, on June 20, 2011. (Mark Kolbe/AFP/Getty Images)

Poisonous snakes and crocodiles are reportedly being used by Australian drug dealers to guard crops from police and thieves.

The Australian Associated Press cited wildlife rangers as saying that they were being called in once a week by police to remove reptiles — including Taipans and brown snakes — from cages where drugs had been hidden.

Some dealers even used crocs to guard their stashes.

The AAP quoted the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection's northern wildlife operations manager, Michael Joyce, as saying:

"They will put drugs in the bottom of a snake enclosure and then put the snake on top. Those that are caught will tell you that they love snakes, but they're actually keeping them in really unsanitary conditions."

The reptiles are often riddled with mites and starving, rangers said, and once captured, the reptiles were released back into the wild.

Meanwhile, The Australian newspaper wrote in April that a police crackdown on cannabis crops had cost "organised, sophisticated" criminal groups nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

Growers had so far tried to evade detection of their crops by using vegetation "canopies" and protect them with hurricane fencing and chicken wire.

The AAP report into the use of more potential fatal drug crop protections comes a day after the head of Australia's leading alcohol research body called for marijuana to be legalised here, to reduce the harm of drinking.

Robin Room, director of the government funded Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, told the Herald Sun that the social harm associated with marijuana was significantly less than from drinking.

"I think we need to have the discussion and it makes a lot of sense in terms of, among others, cutting down government costs to have a fairly highly controlled legal (cannabis) market and, while we are at it, tighten up the legal market of alcohol in the same way we tightened up the market of tobacco."

Room, a leading academic at Melbourne University, is funded by the Department of Human Services.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/snakes-and-crocodiles-guarding-australian-drug-crops-poli