A record 38.5 tonnes of illicit drugs seized in Australia in 2019–20

Today the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) released the 18th edition of the Illicit Drug Data Report, which continues to provide an authoritative picture of illicit drugs in Australia. Illicit drug data collected and presented in the report includes arrest, detection, seizure, purity, profiling and price data.

“The illicit drug data shows some significant increases on previous years, which is of considerable concern,” Mr Phelan said.

The estimated street value of the weight of amphetamines, MDMA, cannabis, cocaine and heroin seized nationally in 2019–20 is around $9.7 billion, of which amphetamines accounts for nearly 90 per cent.

“Our job at the ACIC is to identify the most serious risks that pose the greatest harm and provide law enforcement and other agencies with the information they need to most effectively remove drugs and high-risk offenders from the community,” Mr Phelan said.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on drug markets in the last few months of 2019–20, many new records were set this reporting period. These include:

  • 5.2 tonnes of ATS (excluding MDMA) detected at the Australian border
  • 12.8 tonnes of ATS seized nationally
  • 10.6 tonnes of cannabis seized nationally
  • 121,274 national illicit drug seizures
  • 39,204 national ATS seizures
  • 62,454 national cannabis seizures
  • 2,230 national heroin seizures
  • 5,750 national cocaine seizures
  • 166,321 national illicit drug arrests
  • 49,638 national ATS arrests
  • 5,393 national cocaine arrests.

“The Australian illicit drug market remains highly lucrative, with growing demand for a wide variety of substances.

“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.

“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,” Mr Phelan said.

While the emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions, both domestically and internationally, may have impacted drug market trends, for this reporting period:

  • the ATS market remains large and shows some signs of potential expansion
  • the cannabis market remains large and is potentially expanding
  • the heroin market remains small but appears to be expanding
  • the cocaine market continued to expand.

The market for other drugs remains small compared to the above markets, however there are signs that the market for hallucinogens continues to expand, with the market for GHB/GBL and 1-4 butanediol (1,4-BD) also expanding.

The ACIC continues to monitor emerging markets in addition to the highest risk drug markets. In this report we also feature GHB, GBL and 1,4-BD markets which are dynamic and show significant potential for expansion.

“Based on bespoke data included in this report, there was a record number and weight of these drugs seized this reporting period, and a record number of GHB/GBL clandestine laboratories detected in 2019–20,” Mr Phelan said.

 “Along with our domestic and international law enforcement partners, we will continue to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in our country by dismantling importation and production capabilities and disrupting distribution networks.

“This is so we can have a community that is less burdened by the impact of illicit drugs, including crime, illness, injury and death.

“I am proud of the depth and breadth of work in which modern law enforcement is engaged, however law enforcement is only one aspect of the effort needed to minimise the harm caused by illicit drugs in Australia.

“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.

This report contains data and analysis provided by federal, state and territory police, as well as forensic laboratories and the Department of Home Affairs. These agencies provide significant contributions to each report and their expertise and experience, along with their continued support, have been invaluable to the ACIC.

The Illicit Drug Data Report 2019–20 is available at www.acic.gov.au

ACIC Media

02 6268 7343


Note to media:

Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.