An Australian father whose only son died while under the influence of a synthetic recreational drug has infiltrated the Chinese criminal gangs exporting the substances to our shores.
Rod Bridge’s son Preston died in February 2013, after leaping from a Perth balcony while on the synthetic drug, 25i-NBOMe.
It is believed the 16-year-old was under the impression he could fly before he plunged to his death.
“The hallucination for some reason caused him to think he could fly or jump.
“Witnesses have come forward and said he didn’t just fall off a balcony, he ran.”
One hit of 25i-NBOMe is the size of six grains of salt and is up to 60 times more potent than LSD.
Chief scientist at Safework Laboratories Tyron Edwards says the effect of synthetic drugs flooding the market “will be worse” than the consequences of drugs currently available like cocaine and ice.
“(There were) reports in America of a person chewing off someone’s face while on it, that’s mind altering to the Xth degree,” he said.
Mr Bridge embarked on a remarkable personal mission to China to meet the suppliers smuggling the substances into Australia.
He told 60 Minutes about his plans, and secretly filmed and recorded his interactions with dealers while posing as an Aussie crime boss.
“We’re on the verge of some sort of tsunami about to happen and these synthetic drugs that are coming in are just going to get bigger and bigger and this has got to stop,” Mr Bridge said.
“Somebody’s got to stop it.”
So Mr Bridge took it upon himself, travelling into China telling sellers he was trying to prove to his partner, actually a 60 Minute producer, it was possible to smuggle large quantities of the synthetic drugs in Australia undetected.
The synthetic substances were once legal in Australia, and remain legal to produce and sell in China under the pretence of medical research.
Throughout his meetings, he was offered the chance to import at least five different synthetic chemicals into Australia, with one deal including more than 200kg.
The supplier confirmed they currently ship approximately one hundred kilos of the drugs to Australia each month.
Mr Bridge filmed and recorded the meetings in the hope of getting the newly formed Australian Border Force to act, claiming his previous attempts to engage police and customs have failed.
He says he has contacted government agencies who have all neglected to respond to his requests for help.
“I was just so disgusted,” he said.
“It has to be taken to the next level.”
Only last week Justice Minister Michael Keanon announced a blanket ban on all synthetic drug imports, but they often reach Australia as bath salts or similar products, and are marked as not for human consumption.
It is reportedly very difficult for sniffer dogs to detect synthetic drugs.
In one clip from a meeting in China the drug sellers told Mr Bridge they have no feas about getting their products through customs.
“We have lots of experience sending packages to Australia,” one seller said.
“We know how customs works.
“Don’t worry, Australia is safe.”