The amount of ice and related stimulants seized in NSW surged 120 per cent in a year to 9.8 tonnes as drug bust records tumbled nationwide, underscoring the threat posed by organised crime networks that control production, imports and distribution.
A record 38.5 tonnes of illicit drugs were seized nationally in 2019-20, a 45 per cent increase on the previous year and a 314 per cent increase over the last decade, according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, which described the figures as staggering.
Methylamphetamine – known as ice in its crystal form – and other amphetamine-type stimulants accounted for 90 per cent of the more than $9.7 billion worth of major drugs seized nationally, the commission’s latest illicit drugs report found.
The commission’s chief executive, Michael Phelan, said the significant growth of prohibited substances was of considerable concern and organised crime figures were overseeing the highly lucrative black economy.
“The trade in illicit drugs continues to be the principal source of profit for serious and organised crime in our country, with criminals at the centre motivated by power and greed,” Mr Phelan said.
“Despite the harm it causes to families and the broader community, Australians continue to line the pockets of organised crime groups who are deliberately targeting our country.”
The commission estimated the methylamphetamine seized by authorities equated to 84 per cent of the amount consumed nationally in 2019-20, while seized heroin was estimated to be 21 per cent of consumption, cocaine 28 per cent and MDMA 122 per cent.
Sydney’s reputation as the country’s cocaine capital is intact, with NSW accounting for 68 per cent of the drug seized in Australia in 2019-20 and 48 per cent of the 5393 cocaine arrests. The number of arrests for cocaine nationally increased more than five times over the last decade.