June 10, 2016
Performance enhancing drug market on the rise
The market for performance-enhancing drugs is “insidious” and has increased across Queensland over the past three years, a Crime and Corruption Commission report has found. The Illicit Drug Markets in Queensland: 2015-16 intelligence assessment was released on Friday and found “vulnerable” young men wanting a more “muscular” physique were being targeted in the performance and image-enhancing drugs market. CCC executive director crime Kathleen Florian said the PIEDs market had increased in regional Queensland towns such as Toowoomba, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone and preyed on young men who lacked confidence in their bodies. “From a body image point of view, the steroid market is a market that is particularly insidious,” she said. “People take drugs for a whole lot of reasons, to get away from the world have a good time, but the steroid markets are targeted towards young guys who are vulnerable and lack confidence and look at themselves in mirror and wish they could be someone else. “(The PIEDs market) seems to be tied with young guys more in the gym scene, it is more around the image enhancing drugs, it is steroids but also human growth hormone and there is a number of other products linked with that. “It is across the board but we have noticed a marked increase in regional areas.” The report found there had been several detections across Queensland over the past year of people creating “home brew” PIEDs set ups. “That is a bit of a shift in that market, we are seeing people manufacturing it, there have been several detections over last year of people manufacturing PEIDs which have been quite sophisticated set ups,” Ms Florian said. “Gyms are the obvious place where people who are the target of that market come together. “We are seeing an increase in organised crime in PEIDs, there is a demand increase but also we are seeing some local manufacturing and distribution of steroids and involvement of outlaw motorcycle gangs.” The report also found high purity crystal methylamphetamine, or ice, was the fastest growing illicit drug market in Queensland. Since 2012 there has been a shift from methylamphetamine in powder form to high purity crystal, otherwise known as ice, with interstate and overseas suppliers now outstripping local production due to “strong and consistent demand”, the report found. Ms Forian said the CCC had maintained its rating of methylamphetamine as the illicit drug market that poses the highest level of risk. “The number of deaths, overdoses, and drug-related episodes associated with methylamphetamine continues to trend upwards,” she said. “Methylamphetamine was assessed as high risk also because of the extent to which organised crime is entrenched in the distribution of it. “We are seeing a change in how that methylamphetamine is being made available, in the past there was much more domestic production and now we are seeing greater level of importation of product. “There is concern also as product imported is much higher purity.” Ice was reported to be “easy” to obtain and therefore able to attract new users, with organised crime groups relating to ice distribution considered to be “entrenched” in the Queensland market. The cocaine market’s level of risk had heightened in the CCC’s latest report due to the number of harmful substances added or used to cut the drug. Ms Florian said veterinary drugs like Levamisole, used to treat cattle for parasitic worm infections, were being used to boost the attractiveness of cocaine to buyers. “Levamisole is used to give the cocaine a bulkier appearance and to increase purity appearance, it is a marketing thing with complete disregard for human welfare,” she said. “If people knew they were getting cocaine that had cattle dewormer in it they wouldn’t be taking it.” The Gold Coast policing district had accounted for the largest number of cocaine seizures in Queensland since 2012, the report found. Ms Florian hoped the report would remind Queenslanders about the dangers and using drugs not just in terms of the direct harm caused, but also the wider implications. “Importantly I want to reinforce to drug users that they are supporting organised crime. Even if you see yourself as just an occasional user, the reality is you are directly supporting and funding organised crime,” Ms Florian said.