Media statement: Methylamphetamine consumption

According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, there has been an increase in methylamphetamine consumption in both capital cities and regional areas since August 2021. We judge that this increase has been brought about by a mix of normal market forces (including demand, supply and seasonal factors), and supply-side decisions by serious and organised crime groups who seek to profit from, and cause harm, to the Australian community.

The Mekong region of south-east Asia, including ‘The Golden Triangle’, has been associated with drug production and trafficking for several decades, and the level of manufacture of methylamphetamine continued with minimal interruption during the COVID-19 period. Methylamphetamine is also imported into Australia from Mexico and other countries and domestically manufactured in tangible quantities.

Australian drug consumers are price takers – they have little to no ability to influence prices – and they seem prepared to pay relatively high prices for the major drugs by world standards. Even during the COVID-19 period, although wholesale and even street prices increased, many increases were within historical ranges.

The weight of amphetamines (most of which are methylamphetamine) seized in 2019–20 increased 113% from the previous reporting period, to a record 9,408.1 kilograms. This equates to 84% of the level of methylamphetamine consumption over the same period. By weight, amphetamine-type stimulants (excluding MDMA) were detected primarily in sea cargo (53%), followed by air cargo (39%), international mail (7%) and air passenger/crew (1%).

Shane Neilson

Principal Advisor Drugs

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission