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Australia tops ecstasy abuse

The Australian b

May 03, 2006


MORE than two million Australians have taken illegal amphetamine-based drugs.

And Australians are the biggest users of ecstasy in the world, per head of population.

The shock findings are contained in the Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Data Report for 2004-05.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison, who launched the ACC report yesterday, said there had been a disturbing increase in the use and making of amphetamine-type substances (ATS) in Australia.

Senator Ellison said an estimated one in 10 Australians had tried ATS.

ACC chief executive Alastair Milroy said tablets sold as ecstasy or speed often contained other dangerous chemicals, including the horse tranquilliser ketamine.

"There is an increasing trend in the use of crystal methylamphetamine (ice) among young recreational drug users," he said.

Senator Ellison said most Australians now seemed to have got the message not to use heroin.

"But with amphetamine-type stimulants we are struggling," he said.

"We have got a lot more to do in relation to educating our young people."

The report revealed:


  • POLICE arrested 77,333 people for drug-related offences in Australia last year and seized more than 13.6 tonnes of illegal drugs.
  • THERE has been a 556 per cent increase in the number of amphetamine-producing clandestine laboratories detected in Australia since 1996.
  • CRIMINAL gangs have infiltrated pharmaceutical, chemical, steel and glassware companies so they have access to drug-making ingredients and equipment.
  • SEVENTY per cent of people arrested in Australia have used illegal drugs in the 30 days before being arrested.
  • MORE than 60 per cent of criminals charged with property offences had recently used illegal drugs other than cannabis.
  • FORTY-ONE per cent of females detained by police tested positive to amphetamines and 29 per cent of males did.
  • WEST African crime gangs play a big role in smuggling cocaine to Australia.
  • AUSTRALIANS snort and inject almost three tonnes of cocaine a year.
  • BY far the biggest annual increase in seized amphetamines was in Victoria, up almost 600 per cent to 1.26 tonnes in 2004-05.
  • CANNABIS is increasingly being used by ecstasy and other drug users to manage moods and come down from stimulant drugs.
  • VIETNAMESE crime gangs are emerging as a dominant force in hydroponic cannabis production.
  • THE continuing decline in opium production in South-East Asia has created the potential for traffickers to look to Afghanistan as a future source of heroin to Australia.
  • A CREW member from a visiting Japanese warship tried to bring almost 10kg of crystal methylamphetamine (ice) into Australia last year.

The ACC report warned that recent restrictions placed on the supply of pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets would see criminals turn to other methods to get the ingredients for amphetamines.

Mr Milroy said police seized 6.9 tonnes of cannabis last year.