Australia's drug trade is at an all-time high, big increase in ice and steroid arrests
Australia’s illicit drug trade is at an all-time high, with a record number of drug-related arrests in 2012-2013, according to the latest report from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).
The commission’s Illicit Drug Date report says law enforcement officials seized $2.7 billion worth of illicit drugs last financial year.
A record 100,000 arrests were made, and there were 80,000 seizures of illicit drugs.
More than 19 tonnes of drugs were seized by police and border patrol agents.
While 2012-13 was a record year that saw increases in almost every drug market, the number of drug labs found nationwide decreased.
Australia facing crystal meth ‘pandemic’
The figures show a disturbing trend of methamphetamine use in Australia, with the number of “ice” seizures up more than 300 per cent in one year.
Acting chief of the ACC Paul Jevtovic said the rapidly evolving ice market was a national concern.
“With its relative accessibility, affordability, and destructive side-effects, crystal methylamphetamine is emerging as a pandemic akin to the issue of crack cocaine in the United States,” he said.
The report says the long-term use of crystal methylamphetamine can lead to aggressive and violent behaviour, depression, and cardiovascular problems and kidney failure.
Executive director of the ACC Judith Lind says ice has been directly linked to a number of violent crimes in the past year.
“The reason that we’re concerned about ice in particular is that it’s a really insidious drug in terms of the impact it has on people around the users,” she said.
“Many illicit drug users seem to think that they’re doing no harm to anyone, but because of the nature and effect of ice in particular, people can become paranoid, they can become very violent.
“There’s been a number of instances over the last 12 months where meth-addicted people have caused fatal car accidents, have been involved in attempted murders and very violent incidents involving others.”
Bulking up: steroid use still rising
Performance and image-enhancing drugs were another area of growth, with a record number of steroid seizures at Australian borders in the past year.
Steroid arrests were up 29 per cent from the previous year, part of a trend that has seen steroid seizures at the Australia border increase more than 750 per cent in the past decade.
New South Wales is the epicentre of Australia’s steroid trade, with the state accounting for nearly half of the performance drug market.
The report lists a number of serious side-effects of steroid use, especially for males, including extreme mood swings, mania, depression, paranoia, delusions, impaired judgement, organ damage, high blood pressure and blood clots.
The ACC draws a connection between peptides and steroids acting as a gateway for injecting drugs, with an Australian Needle and Syringe Program survey finding that 68 per cent of males who started injecting drugs listed performance and image-enhancing drugs as the last drug they used.