Latest Illicit Drug Data Report released

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Latest Illicit Drug Data Report released

Posted 21/05/2012 by Cat Barker

The Illicit Drug Data Report produced each year by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) provides a statistical overview of illicit drug arrests and seizures for the financial year and details the current situation, national impact and emerging trends related to illicit drugs in Australia and internationally. The latest report is the ninth in the series, which replaced the Australian Illicit Drug Report from 2002–03. Outlined below is a brief snapshot of some of the key findings of the 2010–11 Illicit Drug Data Report launched by the Minister for Home Affairs on 17 May 2012, with a focus on amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), cocaine and heroin.

Overall findings and trends
Cannabis continued its dominance among illicit drugs in Australia in terms of arrests, seizures and use. This mirrors the drug’s position in the global illicit drug market, where it has the greatest level of cultivation and production and the highest proportion of illicit drug users. However, the prominence of other illicit drug types continued to increase.

The year 2010–11 saw the highest number of seizures in the last decade (over 69 500) and the second highest number of arrests for illicit drugs (84 700). The number of seizures has increased by 43 per cent over the last decade. The ACC attributes the increase in seizures to increased intelligence and information sharing between jurisdictions within Australia and between Australia and overseas partners.

There were increases across a range of drugs falling into the ‘other drugs’ category (including anabolic agents and selected hormones, tryptamines, and pharmaceuticals) across a variety of indicators. Detections of tryptamines (such as lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD) and ‘performance and image enhancing drugs’ (the anabolic agents and selected hormones) at the Australian border continued to increase, with 2010–11 detections of the latter the highest on record. The number of pharmaceutical detections was more than double that for 2009–10, and the highest recorded in the last decade.

A record high of 703 clandestine laboratories were detected in Australia in 2010–11, representing a continued upward trend in domestic production of illicit substances. Consistent with international findings, the majority of these laboratories (81 per cent) were involved in ATS manufacture. This was matched by increased seizures of precursors (ingredients) for both MDMA (commonly known as ‘ecstasy’) and non-MDMA ATS. The number and weight of non-MDMA precursor detections at the border increased by 16 per cent and 40.3 per cent over 2009–10 levels respectively. While the number of detections of MDMA precursors remains low, there were seven in 2010–11, the highest since 2004–05.


MDMA detected at the border
The number and weight of MDMA detections at the border in 2010–11 were up by 111 per cent and 35 per cent respectively over 2009–10 levels. As illustrated in the graph below, while the number of MDMA detections in 2010–11 represents a large increase over 2008–09 and 2009–10 levels, it is low compared to earlier in the decade.

Number and weight of MDMA detections at the Australian border [Source: Illicit Drug Data Report 2010-11, ACC, p. 28].  Note: the weight of MDMA detections for the years 2008-09 to 2010-11 were 12.9, 6.5 and 8.8 kilograms respectively.  These numbers are too small to be visible on the graph due to the scale used.

Ireland was the primary embarkation point for attempted MDMA importations in 2010–11 by number, with Canada the most prominent by weight.

Other ATSs detected at the border
The number and weight of non-MDMA ATS detections at the border also increased in 2010–11, up by 60 per cent and 58 per cent respectively over 2009–10 levels. The number of detections was the highest in the last decade.

India was the primary embarkation point for attempted non-MDMA ATS importations in 2010–11 by number, with Canada the most prominent by weight.

Seizures and arrests
As illustrated in the graph below, the number and weight of ATS seizures also increased, though less so, up 6.3 per cent and 50.1 per cent respectively over 2009–10 levels. The number of arrests decreased for the second year in a row, but remains high compared to earlier in the decade.

National ATS seizures by weight and number [Source: Illicit Drug Data Report 2010-11, ACC, p. 40]

The number and weight of cocaine detections at the border also increased in 2010–11, up by 67 per cent and 81 per cent respectively over 2009–10 levels, following two years of decreases. However, a single detection accounted for 57 per cent of the total weight detected in the year.

While the number of cocaine seizures decreased by 20 per cent, the weight increased by 68 per cent in the first increase since 2007–08, to the third highest weight recorded in the last decade. The number and weight of cocaine seizures by year are illustrated in the graph below. The number of arrests decreased by 32.6 per cent from 2009–10 to 2010–11. However, arrests have increased by 37 per cent over the last decade.

National cocaine seizures by weight and number [Source: Illicit Drug Data Report 2010-11, ACC, p. 90]

The primary points of embarkation for attempted cocaine importations in 2010–11 by number were Panama, the United Kingdom, the United States, Argentina and Thailand and by weight were Ecuador, Panama, the US, Colombia and Canada. While Colombia remains the primary source country for cocaine seized at the border, the number of embarkation points has increased by 50 per cent over the last decade from 24 to 36.

The number of heroin detections at the border decreased by 7 per cent from 2009–10 to 2010–11. In contrast to the modest decrease in number, the weight of detections increased by 241 per cent to the highest recorded since 2001–02. While most detections weighed a kilogram or less, the 16.3 per cent that weighed more than a kilogram accounted for 87.5 per cent of the total weight.

Both the number and weight of heroin seizures increased in 2010–11. As indicated in the graph below, despite only a modest increase in the number of seizures of 7.5 per cent over 2009–10, the number of seizures for 2010–11 is the highest in a decade at 1700. The weight increased by 403 per cent over the previous year to the highest recorded since 2002–03. New South Wales recorded a 521.8 per cent increase in seizure weight and accounted for over 90 per cent of the national weight. There was a small decrease of 7.8 per cent in the number of arrests for heroin and other opioids compared to 2009–10.

National heroin seizures by weight and number [Source: Illicit Drug Data Report 2010-11, ACC, p. 71]

Singapore, Malaysia and India were the primary embarkation points for attempted heroin importations in 2010–11 by number, with Malaysia, Pakistan and Vietnam the most prominent by weight. A total of 20 countries were identified as embarkation points, down from 29 in 2009–10. In line with previous years, heroin seized at the border originated from both South-East Asia (the ‘Golden Triangle’) and South-West Asia (the ‘Golden Crescent’), with the bulk of heroin seized continuing to come from South-East Asia overall.

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