Last Updated: 2012-07-06
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MELBOURNE, July 6 (NNN-Bernama): The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has begun a trial of body scanning technology to detect internal drug concealments.

"This is a smarter, faster, way to catch drug mules," Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare said on Thursday.

"Instead of taking people suspected of concealing drugs to the hospital, this technology can confirm this on the spot.

"It saves the time and resources of Australian Federal Police and local hospitals.

"About half of the heroin and cocaine detected at our airports is internally concealed," Clare said in a statement.

Travellers will only be asked to undertake a body scan where there is reasonable suspicion that they are carrying drugs internally and have given consent.

The Customs and Border Protection Service is using the internal body scanner at an Australian airport as part of a 12-month pilot programme. For operational reasons the location of the body scanner will not be publicly disclosed.

The body scanner will produce images of a person's internal cavities similar to a medical X-ray image but with significantly lower radiation exposure.

The images produced by the scanner focus on internal body tissue, the skeleton, and where present, internal drug concealments within body cavities.

On June 29, a pregnant Malaysian woman, who swallowed 34 pellets of heroin in Kuala Lumpur before her arrest at Melbourne airport, was jailed for a minimum 14 months after pleading guilty to importing heroin.

County Court Judge Gabriele Cannon criticised Norazlinda Ramli, 35, from Puchong for putting her unborn baby's life at risk.