Australia now a global drug trafficking hub: UN report

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Melbourne, June 26 : Australia is one of the world's fastest growing international trafficking hubs for illegal drugs including cocaine, ice and speed, a United Nations report to be released tonight has found.

Trafficking in these drugs has tripled in Australia in the past 12 months, figures from the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2008 show.

The surge means the country is now rated third in cocaine smuggling growth - behind African hotspot Nigeria and South America's Uruguay - compared to data from the previous year.

The report, to be released at the UNODC's headquarters in Vienna globally at 9 p.m. (AEST) tonight, also found:

- Cheap cocaine and heroin set to flood the world market

- Sophisticated new routes being used to smuggle drugs into Australia

- A plunge in the local use and trafficking of cannabis and ecstasy

The UNDOC World Drug Report is a comprehensive snapshot taken each year of the state of drug addiction, trafficking and policing around the globe, reports.

This year it shows about 208 million people aged 15-64 worldwide - or one in every twenty - had tried illicit drugs at least once in the past 12 months, and identified about 26 million as dependent, problem drug users.

In total, authorities discovered about a ton of amphetamines in Australia in 2006 - the latest available data used by the UN in the report - compared to just 300kg the previous year.

Cocaine trafficking in Australia also tripled in the same period, the UNODC said.

In 2005, authorities uncovered 90kg of cocaine, but 300kg was discovered in the following 12 months.

Cocaine trafficked into Australia was sourced from North America, China and western Africa, after it was smuggled out of Argentina and Venezuela.

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