International drug syndicate disrupted by seven arrests in Melbourne Photo: Australian Federal Police
International drug syndicate disrupted by seven arrests in Melbourne Photo: Australian Federal Police

The number of illicit drug seizures and arrests across Australia are at the highest on record according to the Illicit Drug Data Report 2015-16 released today.

The latest Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) report on the national illicit drug market has highlighted the continued success of our law enforcement agencies, but it also shows that there’s still work to be done.

The report has revealed that national illicit drug seizures increased by nine per cent to 115,421 and arrests increased by 15.4 per cent to a record 154,538 arrests in 2015-16 compared to the previous year.

Nationally, over the past decade the number of illicit drug seizures has increased by 84.7 per cent, the weight of illicit drugs seized has increased by more than 75 per cent, and the number of arrests has increased by 87.6 per cent.

The report has revealed valuable insights into the way criminals prefer to import their drugs of choice. International post was largely used to bring in cocaine and ecstasy, while cannabis and heroin were prominent in air cargo and amphetamines made up the bulk of drugs found in sea cargo.

The report has also highlighted what we already know: that ice use poses by far the greatest threat to the community of all illicit drugs types. Organised crime operatives rely on the profits from ice, with more than 60 per cent of Australia’s highest risk criminal targets involved in the ice trade.

With drug peddlers getting more sophisticated than ever before, we must be smarter and more targeted in our collective efforts to detect, disrupt and undermine this depraved industry – which is why data like this is key.

These results, together with the first National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report released earlier this year, provides us with greatest overarching picture of illicit drug supply and use across our nation.

Our law enforcement agencies are among the best in the world and their continued success sends the strongest possible message to the criminals who deal drugs: we will find you.

However, these findings also drive home the message that we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem – we must also reduce the demand for illicit drugs in Australia.

The Coalition Government is investing almost $300 million to support actions resulting from the National Ice Action Strategy to improve treatment, after care, education, prevention and community engagement.

We are also tackling the supply of illicit drugs through increased international cooperation by the Australian Federal Police with key partners, such as the joint Australia-China Taskforce Blaze which has resulted in the seizure of more than 10 tonnes of illicit drugs in just 18 months.

We have invested $88 million to increase screening and examination of international mail, air and sea cargo. This funding boost gives our agencies greater tools to detect illicit drugs at our borders.

Make no mistake; the Coalition Government will use every weapon in our arsenal to break the business models of drug dealers and organised crime gangs that rely and thrive on the profits of illicit drugs. The report is available at the ACIC website.