Aussie ice addicts face drug shortage and price hike

Coronavirus may have forced 'ice' users into cold turkey with the street price of the drug up by 20 per cent but its use potentially down, as COVID-19 public health restrictions crack supply lines to users, law enforcers have revealed.

And COVID-19 had also prompted security risk assessments of intelligence staff forced to work from home, with foreigner housemates seeing exemptions and keeping staff in the office.

Speaking via teleconference to a Senate Joint Committee in law enforcement, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief Michael Phelan said COVID-19 had no doubt impacted the illicit market not just for ice but other substances like cocaine too.

Mr Phelan said throughout the world the virus had disrupted drug networks and he had ordered his officers to fast track raw reporting of the sampling and analysis being done now for the 11th Waste Water analysis report.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive officer Michael Phelan speaking to the Senate Parliamentary Joint Committee today. Picture: Adrian Fowler
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive officer Michael Phelan speaking to the Senate Parliamentary Joint Committee today. Picture: Adrian Fowler

 

"We're getting anecdotal evidence around the country of drug usage and what we think might happen and price hikes at the wholesale level but I am looking forward to our first empirical data that will show usage," he said, adding he hoped to get the data in three to four weeks.

He agreed there was a shortage of supply from airfreight and travelling drug mule couriers but it was not clear whether that had prompted an increase in wholesale price or whether it was opportunism, and using coronavirus as an excuse, to up prices by 20 per cent.

 

"But our intelligence does suggest organised criminals outside Australia are having difficulty bringing products to market and that makes sense with world trade the way it is."

Mr Phelan said when borders opened he was not concerned about a mass drug influx, supply would always meet demand.

Methamphetamine drug. Picture: Supplied
Methamphetamine drug. Picture: Supplied

 

"I am hoping, and it is very much a hope, that if supplies are restricted over the period of COVID-19 for all reasons then hopefully we will see a reduction in demand," he said.

He said intelligence showed when there are large seizures of ice, Waste Water analysis showed there was a significant decline in usage one to two months after.

He said ice landing in Australia, from South Pacific transit stockpiles, was pretty much gone in use within one month even when it's by the tonne.

Meanwhile Mr Phelan revealed coronavirus had forced supervisors to make certain risk assessments for staff to work in protected environments at home during the virus.

When someone in the family becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, everyone around them suffers.
When someone in the family becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, everyone around them suffers.

 

He said with a large percentage of workforce being contractors, some have had non-Australian citizens living with them at home and under those circumstances and given the sensitivity of what work those people were not allowed to work from home. He declined to provide specific numbers.

He added supervisors were always monitoring outputs.

"I can tell you if someone was surfing Netflix all day on the work computer from home as opposed to searching the ACIC intelligence systems," he said.

Originally published as Aussie ice addicts face drug shortage and price hike


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