Villawood, Australia’s largest immigration detention centre, said to be ‘awash with drugs’ A small cohort of guards is smuggling at least $10,000 worth of drugs into the centre every week

The Guardian reports this breaking story about Australia’s largest detention center for immigrants and yes it’s a Serco run facilty…

Australia’s largest immigration detention centre is “awash with drugs”, sources inside the Villawood detention centre say, with several detailing an extensive drug-smuggling operation.

Photographs from inside the centre show marijuana and “bupe” – buprenorphine, an opioid medication – in numerous compounds across the facility, which currently holds 450 people, in western Sydney.

Sources in the centre say the drug trade is widespread and widely known by staff and detainees. The drugs are brought into the centre by a small cohort of guards, multiple sources claimed.

Asked whether any staff had been dismissed over drug importation, Serco – the company contracted to provide “support services” inside Villawood – has confirmed one employee was dismissed and reported to police last year following an investigation into “illegal activity”.

Multiple sources, across compounds, have independently detailed one smuggling operation.

Those detained at Villawood are given a “buy-up” allowance every week which allows them to purchase incidental and personal items such as drinks, snack foods, shampoo and soap.

The goods available through the buy-up are bought by Serco, which recently signed a $715m extension to its contract with the Department of Home Affairs to provide support services inside Australia’s onshore immigration detention network. The Serco contract is ultimately paid for by Australian taxpayers.

Each detainee’s weekly “buy-up” allowance is 60 points. A 25g packet of loose tobacco costs 26 points, so a detainee can buy two packets a week.

These packets are collected and tightly packed in 5kg express post bags, which are also bought through the buy-up scheme, for 21.5 points.

“They pack these very tightly, about 50 packets per envelope,” a source said.

“As the tobacco is 25 grams, even when adding in the package weight that is still well below the weight limit. I see two-to-three envelopes leaving my compound alone per week, so I would guess the total leaving Villawood would be a minimum of six to eight. That means between 300-400 packets of tobacco per week.”

According to the source, outside the detention centre the tobacco is sold, usually below market price, illicitly by drug dealers, or through “chop chop” shops, and the detainees credited for their supply.

That credit is used to buy drugs or other contraband, which is then smuggled into Villawood.

With visitors prohibited because of Covid restrictions, drugs are being brought into the centre by a small cohort of guards, multiple sources claimed.

Read the full report at

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