Australia’s pursuit of the perfect pecs, abs and biceps has led to an explosion in the number of arrests and seizures for illegal steroids.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission has released its annual illicit drug data report, revealing a record number of busts across nearly all drug categories including performance and image-enhancing drugs.
More than 320 kilograms of steroids were confiscated by police last year, a 1756 per cent increase. Photo: Michael Howard
As part of its annual snapshot of drugs in Australia, the ACIC reported an overall record number of illicit drug seizures – soaring 13.7 per cent to 105,862 in 2014-15.
Image and performance enhancing drugs seized by police. Photo: NSW Police
Total illicit drug arrests were also up – 19.5 per cent to 133,926 – however the overall weight of drugs seized by law enforcement decreased to 23.5 tonnes.
More than 320 kilograms of steroids were confiscated by police in 2014-15, up from just 17 kilograms the year before – a whopping 1756 per cent increase.
The number of seizures of steroids spiked 48 per cent to 529, as NSW well and truly accounted for the highest proportion of impounded muscle-building drugs.
There was also a 29.3 per cent jump in the number of arrests for illegal steroids, with 1210 people collared for trading in the drugs in the past year.
Those numbers are part of a decade-long trend showing an increase in seizures and arrests involving steroids.
Detections of performance and image-enhancing drugs at the border were also up 7.2 per cent last year in raw number terms to 7381.
The largest bust involved the discovery of 120 kilograms of testosterone hidden in mattresses, bound by sea from China to Sydney.
International mail was the most popular method of importing performance and image enhancing drugs, accounting for 86.9 per cent of the total trade.
In its report the ACIC cited the World Anti-Doping Agency, which found that steroid abuse was increasing among young athletes aged between 14 and 18.
Amphetamine-type stimulants, including ice, overtook cannabis for just the second time in the past decade as the most seized drug by tonnage, with a record 12.6 tonnes uncovered by law enforcement.
However, marijuana accounted for the highest number of illicit drug seizures and arrests at 56 per cent of both categories nationwide.
There was also boom in the detection and seizure of illegal prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines (such as valium) and opioids.
National seizures of opioids increased from 29 kilograms to a record 741 kilograms last year, however that was largely driven by a 490 kilogram poppy seed raid in Melbourne in 2014.
ACIC chief executiveChris Dawson said the report contained wastewater data for the first time. The method of detection is considered a more effective way of measuring illicit drug use than surveys which are based on self-reporting.
“Wastewater analysis provides a measure, rather than an estimate, of the use of a number of illicit drugs,” he said.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the wastewater analysis would help detect ice hotspots and emerging drug markets to better shape operational and policy priorities.
“Crooks are more sophisticated than ever before, and we need to be smarter and more targeted in our efforts to detect, disrupt and undermine the misery they peddle,” he said.
The report also found that despite falls in the detection of clandestine drug labs elsewhere, there was an increase in Victoria to 161.