Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jan 2016
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2016 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Nick Ralston


Sydney Awash With Cocaine, Ice, Ecstasy

Organised crime groups have become so successful at importing drugs 
into Australia that the wholesale price being paid for ice, cocaine 
and ecstasy has dramatically fallen in the past 18 months.

The NSW Crime Commission says the illegal drug trade remains the main 
source of income for organised crime in Australia and at present 
illicit substances are in "plentiful supply".

Fairfax Media has learnt that the wholesale price paid by Australian 
criminal groups to import cocaine from overseas was as high as 
$280,000 a kilogram three years ago. Eighteen months ago it had 
dropped to $240,000 a kilogram and now sells below $200,000 and as 
low as $180,000. The cost for a kilogram of ice has fallen in the 
past 18 months from $220,000 to as low as $95,000 and ecstasy had 
dropped from $65,000 to $37,000.

At the same time the latest National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre 
annual survey of drug users shows prices being paid at street level 
remain unchanged - indicating that organised crime groups are 
increasing their profit margins.

Law enforcement agencies attribute the massive price drop to the fact 
that larger quantities of drugs are being successfully imported into Australia.

This is despite the federal government announcing that more drugs 
than ever are being picked up at the borders. In 2014-15 more than 
7.3 tonnes of illicit drugs and the chemicals used to make them were 
seized  the highest amount in five years. Among these seizures was 
Australia's second largest drug bust where 2.8 tonnes of ice and MDMA 
with a street value of $1.5 billion were discovered hidden in 
furniture in December 2014.

The NSW Crime Commission said that bust did little to put a dent in 
the local drug market.

"It was one of Australia's largest ever drug seizures but, despite 
this seizure, the price of both ice and MDMA has continued to drop, 
suggesting a continuing plentiful supply," the NSW Crime Commission's 
annual report states.

It is understood that the Sydney market has become so awash with 
drugs that law enforcement agencies have noticed some organised crime 
groups in the city are moving into Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne to 
do business.

The NSW Crime Commission said expatriate Australians are playing a 
major role in bringing drugs into the country.

Former Sydney resident Hakan Ayik, an associate of the Comancheros 
bikie gang, operates a global drug trafficking network from his 
native Istanbul. Former Kings Cross identity Vaso Ulic is wanted over 
drug imports in Australia. He is based in Montenegro in the former Yugoslavia.

Sydney Hells Angels associate Wayne Schneider, who was murdered last 
December, was based in Thailand where he was selling drugs to groups 
in Australia.

The NSW Crime Commission said record seizures were little deterrent 
to importers, who now factor in such drug busts as "merely a business 

Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation director Alex Wodak said the 
quantity of drugs entering Australia has been a long-term problem and 
that expensive law enforcement polices had not worked.

"It's a market driven by demand and supply," he said. "And while ever 
there is a demand there will always be a supply and demand is strong 
here. There's a lot of people, especially young people, who want to 
get off their face. They always have and presumably always will."

Dr Wodak said the best way to cut the demand was to treat it as a 
health issue rather than a law enforcement one.
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