Latest news on synthetic drugs - July 2017

July 2017 - New Zealand: The significant number of synthetic cannabis related deaths in Auckland

On 21 July 2017, the Chief Coroner and Police issued a joint warning, following at least seven deaths that occurred in Auckland in New Zealand over the course of July, in which the deceased were suspected of having used synthetic cannabinoids. Police and coronial investigations are still ongoing and the substances as well as the exact cause of deaths have not yet been confirmed.

Earlier in April and July 2017, New Zealand Police also dismantled two illicit drug operations selling and distributing synthetic cannabinoids in the Auckland suburb of Avondale.

For more information, please see:

“Joint statement from the Chief Coroner's office and Police on the significant number of synthetic cannabis related deaths in Auckland” –
“Police arrest five after synthetic cannabis operation this morning” (5 July 2017) –
“Update on synthetic cannabis operation in Avondale” (3 April 2017) –
“Seven people charged after synthetic cannabis operation in Avondale” (3 April 2017) –
Global SMART Update Volume 13 “Synthetic cannabinoids: Key facts about the largest and most dynamic group of NPS” –


July 2017 - Indonesia: More than 40 kg of methamphetamine seized in Indonesia

On 15 July, 2017, Indonesian national authorities seized 44 kg of crystalline methamphetamine originating from Malaysia, in Pantai Cermin, North Sumatra. The seized drug was trafficked from Malaysia to Kuala Tanjung, North Sumatra, through the coastal waters of eastern North Sumatra. A total of 10 people were arrested for the related offence.  

Photo copyright ©: Directorate General of Customs and Excise, Indonesia

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July 2017 - Australia: Joint investigation with the US led to a seizure of large amounts of methamphetamine

A joint investigation between Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has resulted in a seizure of 255 kg of crystalline methamphetamine in California. Three Australians were arrested in Australia to have attempted to bring the drug via a light aircraft to Australia. Investigations into this case are ongoing.
According to the most recent Australian Illicit Drug Data Report, the United States was the fourth major embarkation point of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), excluding MDMA, by weight, seized at the Australia border between 2015-2016, following China, including Hong Kong, Taiwan Province of China, and Nigeria.  

Photo copyright ©: Australian Federal Police
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July 2017 – Australia: New annual illicit drug data report released

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACC) released its new annual illicit drug data report that covers data collated between July 2015 and June 2016. The new report confirms that amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), excluding MDMA, remain a significant challenge to Australia. In terms of weight, seizures of ATS (excluding MDAMA) at the Australian border during the period were the second largest on record (2,620.6 kg). Several countries in East and Southeast Asia, such as China, including Hong Kong, Taiwan Province of China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, were listed among the top 10 embarkation points for ATS (excluding MDMA) seized at the border.  
In addition, seizures of ATS (excluding MDMA) related precursor chemicals at the border increased more than a two-fold in 2015-2016 (1,063.7 kg) compared to the preceding period.  China was the prominent embarkation point for the precursors seized at the border during the period, and other countries in East and Southeast Asia, including Viet Nam, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Indonesia, were recognised as key embarkation points.  

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July 2017 - Indonesia: The largest crystalline methamphetamine seizure

Approximately one metric ton (mt) of crystalline methamphetamine, the largest ever on record, was seized in Indonesia on 13 July 2017. According to Indonesian national authorities, the drug was trafficked from Taiwan Province of China to the country by a Taiwanese drug trafficking group through maritime routes. Media reports said the ship used for transporting the drug traveled from Taiwan Province of China to Johor Bahru, Malaysia before reaching Aceh and Serang, Indonesia.


Photo copyright ©: Antrara photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

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