Multi-faceted approach needed to combat illicit drugs in Australia

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

A new report by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), released today, has revealed trends in the importation streams used to transport drugs into the country.

Minister for Justice, the Hon. Michael Keenan MP, launched the report alongside ACIC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Dawson, in Sydney.

“The Illicit Drug Data Report captures a holistic picture of the supply and demand of illicit drugs across the nation,” Mr Dawson said.

“Understanding trends in the methods used to import illicit drugs into our country assists our policy makers and law enforcement agencies in targeting supply and combating the demand for these harmful and illegal substances.”

The Illicit Drug Data Report reveals that the importation stream accounting for the greatest proportion of the weight continues to vary across drug types and reporting periods, with air and sea cargo being used to transport large weights of a range of illicit substances this reporting period.

In 2015–16, the international mail stream accounted for the greatest proportion of the weight of MDMA and cocaine detected at the Australian border, with the air cargo stream accounting for the greatest proportion of the weight of cannabis and heroin detected and the sea cargo stream accounting for the greatest proportion of the weight of amphetamine-type substances (ATS; excluding MDMA) detected.

“Our relationships with national and international partners are more important than ever before, as we work together to target illicit drug importation, production and distribution,” Mr Dawson said.

“The illicit drug market remains the principal source of profit for organised crime and continues to be a key focus for law enforcement in Australia, with the number of illicit drug seizures and arrests once again, the highest on record.”

This reporting period the number of national illicit drug seizures increased 9 per cent, reaching a record 115,421 seizures in 2015–16.

The weight of illicit drugs seized nationally decreased 10.8 per cent this reporting period, with the 21 tonnes seized in 2015–16 the fourth highest weight on record.

The number of national illicit drug arrests increased 15.4 per cent this reporting period to a record 154,538 arrests in 2015–16.

“The statistics in this report highlight the continued vigilance of law enforcement in disrupting illicit drug markets across the nation,” Mr Dawson said.

The Illicit Drug Data Report is a statistical report which provides governments, law enforcement agencies and policy makers with a robust picture of the Australian illicit drug market. It brings together data from all state and territory police agencies, the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection/Australian Border Force, forensic laboratories and research centres.

“Data from the Illicit Drug Data Report continues to inform our understanding and assist in focusing our collective efforts in response to illicit drugs in Australia and I thank all those who have provided valuable contributions to inform this publication,” Mr Dawson said.

“Illicit drug use cannot be addressed by law enforcement alone—a multi-faceted approach is needed.

“We are committed to providing a strong evidence base to inform policy and operational decisions and will continue working with our partners to connect, discover, understand and respond to the threat and harm caused by illicit drug activity.”

The Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 is available online at