A covert Newscorp investigation has named 14 licensed venues in Thredbo and Jindabyne as proving positive for illicit drugs over the weekend.
The Daily Telegraph reports conducting its own swabbing and testing of cisterns and paper dispensers in the toilets of pubs, bars and restaurants on Friday night and Saturday, amid thousands of revellers descending on the region.
Both cocaine and amphetamines, in the forms of MDMA (Ecstasy), speed and crystal meth, were detected through testing in the men’s and women’s toilets at (or near) all the venues.
It was not specified if the operation covertly tested other venues that were not reported because they did not return positive results.
The system used for the testing, the DrugWipe 5F, is used by Australian customs officials and law enforcement agencies around the world, boasting a reliability rate greater than 95 per cent.
The test involves a 10x10cm area being wiped and a saline solution transferring traces to the testing strip, which contains agents to indicate positives for cocaine, cannabis, opiates and amphetamines.
Unless thoroughly cleaned, traces of the drugs may remain on surfaces and be detectable for some time.
Regional authorities suggest the issue is seasonal, as tourists flock to the ski slopes in vacation mode.
The Telegraph’s expose quoted unnamed party buffs toting coke and ecstasy from the capitals and defending the good-time culture, and the author describing a time with no men using the urinals but a line for the cubicles, with snorting sounds emanating.
NSW Police are aware of the ongoing and increasing trend, forming the Southern Region Enforcement Squad in 2018 to conduct covert operations into the supply of drugs in and around the ski fields.
Last month police seized 384kg of cocaine with estimated street value of $144 million from within a vehicle being shipped from South Africa.
Police stations at Perisher and Thredbo are only open during the ski season, and Jindabyne increases its hours.
The accusation-toned article does serve to demonstrate the ongoing prevalence of party drugs in entertainment precincts, which can serve as both catalysts to wider problems for licensed venues and trigger direct consequences by authorities.
The article’s sanctimony did not sit well with at least some of the venue operators – one quoted in an update to the story as disapproving of the tabloid’s entering and conducting the tests without permission or even informing the operators.