The global MDMA market continues to evolve, with factors such as supply and demand, precursor availability and law enforcement operations affecting market dynamics.

According to the UNDOC, sophisticated syndicates in the Netherlands and Belgium continue to produce the bulk of MDMA tablets and powder for the global market, including Australia, using precursor supplies sourced primarily from Asia.

Low prices for MDMA in the United Kingdom and the United States compared with the high Australian retail price ensure that Australia will remain a target for MDMA importations. The AFP works closely with Dutch authorities and other transit country authorities to help combat the drug trade and disrupt attempted importations into Australia.

Significant investigations

  • From April to July 2013 the Indonesian National Narcotic Board (BNN) and the AFP conducted their first joint operation, working with the US Drug Enforcement Administration to dismantle an organised crime syndicate with the potential to import large amounts of a key ingredient of ecstasy into Australia.  The joint investigation identified an Indonesian National using the Silk Road website as a means of distributing safrole oil. It is alleged that the Indonesian National was responsible for the distribution of an estimated 200 litres of safrole oil per month to persons in Australia, Canada, the United States, Holland and New Zealand. On 23 July the BNN arrested a 28-year-old Indonesian national in Jakarta and disrupted the production of safrole in three distilleries located in Madiun, East Java.
  • In March 2013 the AFP arrested a 32-year-old woman in Melbourne and a 38-year-old man in Sydney, seizing 117 kilograms of MDMA base (which is commonly used to manufacture the drug ecstasy) and dismantling an international organised crime syndicate spanning Australia and four European countries.  The complex 18 month investigation resulted in three arrests in Australia and one in the United Kingdom, with search warrants being executed in Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands. It was estimated that the base materials could produce up to 1.37 million ecstasy tablets. The drug has a potential street value of up to $52 million. 

More information about drug seizures can be found in the AFP Annual Reports.