More than $3.5 billion of illicit drugs seized in Australia in 2018–19

Today the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) released the seventeenth edition of the Illicit Drug Data Report, which continues to provide an authoritative picture of illicit drugs in Australia.

The 2018–19 report shows that more than 26.6 tonnes of illicit drugs were seized nationally, with methylamphetamine remaining one of the most consumed and seized illicit drugs in Australia.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM said the estimated street value of the weight of amphetamines, MDMA, cocaine and heroin seized nationally in 2018–19 is around $3.5 billion, underlining the size of the black economy that relates to illicit drugs alone.

In 2018–19 new records were set. These include:

  • 5.1 tonnes of amphetamine type stimulants (excluding MDMA) detected at the Australian border
  • 5,378 national cocaine seizures
  • 5,016 national cocaine arrests
  • 1,029 national hallucinogen arrests
  • 1,363 anaesthetic detections at the Australian border.

Over the last decade, during which time the Australian population increased around 13 per cent, the number of national illicit drug seizures increased 77 per cent, the weight of illicit drugs seized nationally increased 241 per cent and the number of national illicit drug arrests increased 80 per cent with 153,377 arrests in 2018–19.

“It would appear that Australian drug markets continue to grow. As such, the importation, manufacture, cultivation and distribution of illicit drugs and related precursors in Australia remain focal points of government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” said Mr Phelan.

“These upward trends in national seizures and arrests highlight the continued vigilance of law enforcement in reducing the supply of all illicit drugs. They also highlight why illicit drugs continue to be a concern for law enforcement and the wider community, and the ongoing need to reduce demand.”

This report combines illicit drug data from a variety of sources including law enforcement, forensic services, health and academia which inform our understanding and assist in focusing our collective efforts to respond to the issue of illicit drugs.

“Our agency, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue serious and organised criminals seeking to bring these dangerous drugs to Australia and those who cultivate and manufacture them domestically.”

“We also recognise illicit drugs are not just a law enforcement issue. We need to employ a holistic approach that focuses on supply, demand and harm reduction, with law enforcement and health agencies working together” Mr Phelan said.

The Illicit Drug Data Report 2018–19 is available at

ACIC Media

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