Ice – Failure of Drug Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies and politicians like to boast about record seizures of drugs as an indicator that they are succeeding in overcoming the problem. In fact large seizures are evidence of failure rather than success. You only catch a lot of rabbits if there are a lot of rabbits to catch. If police were getting on top of the problem you would be seeing a declining quantity of seizures. The last few rabbits are the hardest to trap.

Thus, Dr John Jiggins pointed out in 2016 that:

“In the five years [since 2011] , the market has been in flood and the seizures have been huge because of the unprecedented size of the flood. In the past two years, the police have claimed two seizures with a street value greater than a billion dollars each! Australia’s current record ice seizure in November 2014 was valued at $1.5 billion; another seizure in February 2016 was valued by the police at $1.2 billion. In 2011, . . . a $50 million seizure [was] ‘a major, major blow’. Five years later, the big seizures are worth over $1 billion!”

John’s article “In fear of Ice: The great Australian methamphetamine flood” includes a chart illustrating the dramatic rise in seizures.

Crystal methamphetamine, the purist and most potent amphetamine type substance first came to Australia around the time of the heroin drought when Asian crime syndicates, having commissioned a market survey, found that there was a more profitable market in Australia for orally ingested drugs in pill form rather than injected ones like heroin. Thus detections of ice by Customs grew from virtually nothing in 1997 to over 154 t in 2001/02.

Families and Friends documented this in March 2006 in a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission:

“crystalline methamphetamine seized that was detected at the border by Customs . . . grew from less than a kilogram in 1997-98 to over 82 kg in 2000-01 and, in the following year, a further increase of 88% to over 154 kg”  (para. 40) submission here