Sydney leads cocaine binge

| 12.06,09. 12:20 AM |

Sydney leads cocaine binge

June 12, 2009

AUSTRALIA is in the middle of a cocaine binge not experienced since the turn of the millennium - and most of the drug is making its way to Sydney, an Australian Crime Commission report says.

More than 80 per cent of the 650 kilograms of cocaine that was detected coming into the country was seized in NSW, and since 2006 Australia has recorded a leap in cocaine detections of almost 400 per cent.

The figures come from the Illicit drug data report, released annually by Australia's top crime fighting body. It is a key indicator of the extent of the nation's drug problem.

The report says drug dealers are experiencing boom times not known for a decade, and the illicit drug market costs the community between $5 billion and $7.5 billion a year.

The commission's chief executive, John Lawler, said: "Serious and organised drug crime is a real problem now and, unless tackled effectively … it will manifest itself in very damaging and dangerous outcomes for the Australian community."

The report, which studies the year to last June, also noted a jump of almost 1000 per cent in the detection of amphetamines such as speed coming into Australia as well as a big jump in the use of domestic drug labs to manufacture ecstasy.

The 13,100 seizures of speed and ecstasy were the second-highest on record; most were in NSW and Western Australia. More than two tonnes was destroyed as a result of seizures - the third-highest amount on record.

Mr Lawler said recent violence in the Sydney underworld was linked to illegal drugs.

"Drugs are in large part what is driving it - competition for market share, people trying to muscle in on market share and other ructions within the outlaw motorcycle and organised crime groups," he said.

The jump in cocaine use is consistent with other recent reports. A household survey in 2007 showed cocaine consumption was at its highest level since 1993; 1.6 per cent of the population admitted using it.

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