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More than 25 tonnes of illicit drugs, equivalent to the weight of four large adult male African elephants, have been destroyed at specialised furnaces across the country. The temperatures reach up to 1400C.

Stimulants including methamphetamine, MDMA and amphetamines dominated the AFP’s burning load with nearly 20 tonnes destroyed this year, while 1.3 tonnes of cocaine and 2.2 tonnes of cannabis and cannabis products went up in smoke.

Heavily-armed AFP members monitor every step of the destruction process and remain on site until every ounce of the drugs has been destroyed.

The furnaces vaporise illicit drugs into a steam that is channeled through a series of filtration systems until it is harmlessly released.

The AFP’s Eastern Command in New South Wales sent nearly 20 tonnes of illicit substances for destruction, including more than 15 tonnes of stimulants and 1 tonne of cocaine. It also destroyed 9.3 tonnes of Gamma-Butyrolcactone (GBL), which is a fast-acting stimulant linked to significant numbers of fatal overdoses.

The AFP’s Western Central Command, which encompasses Western Australia, South Australia and up to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, destroyed almost 900 kilograms of illicit drugs, including more than 260 kilograms of stimulants and 505 kilograms of cannabis. All the illicit drugs were burned under the program.

Southern Command, which covers Victoria and Tasmania, incinerated 3.7 tonnes of illicit drugs, including more than 2 tonnes of khat, which is a stimulant found in the leaves of an East African shrub, 630kg of pseudoephedrine and 506 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Northern Command, which covers Queensland and part of the Northern Territory north of the town of Katherine, burned 1.9 tonnes of seized drugs, including 680kg of stimulants such as methamphetamine and MDMA, 530kg of cannabis and 200kg of cocaine.

Every gram of illicit drugs seized by the AFP is destined for destruction once properly documented for court purposes.

The drug destruction programs follows the AFP ramping up pressure in 2021 on transnational serious organised criminals attempting to import drugs into Australia.

Overall, the 4.3 tonnes of methamphetamine destroyed this year had an estimated street value of nearly $3.9bn. The 1.3 tonnes of destroyed cocaine was valued at $533 million while the AFP also burned $349 million worth of heroin and $165 million worth of cannabis.

AFP Crime Command Detective Superintendent Russel Smith said the furnaces literally vaporized the profits of organised crime gangs.

“The AFP has vaporised more than $5 billion of profit that was destined to line the pockets of the nation’s most dangerous organised criminal gangs, including outlaw motorcycle gangs,” he said.

“This is a major hit to the balance sheets of these criminals and puts pressure on every aspect of their operations.

“The AFP will aggressively pursue anyone trying to spread misery on our streets in order to protect the community which pays the price for the greed of these criminal gangs.

“The 30 tonnes of illicit substances that the AFP has destroyed this year had the potential to cause massive damage to our communities through violence and long-term health impacts, which disproportionately affect the young and vulnerable.”

Illicit drugs destroyed in 2021 by command

  • Eastern: 19.4 tonnes
  • Southern: 3.7 tonnes
  • Western Central: 888 kilograms
  • Northern: 1.9 tonnes
  • Total: 25.8 tonnes

Illicit drugs destroyed in 2021 by drug type

  • Stimulants: 19.8 tonnes (including methamphetamine 4.3 tonnes; MDMA 3.2 tonnes)
  • Cocaine: 1.3 tonnes
  • Cannabis: 2.2 tonnes
  • Opiates/Opioids: 915.53kg (Heroin 820kg)
  • Hallucinogens: 258.5kg
  • Sedatives/pharmaceutical/steroids/parcel post: 1.3 tonnes

Estimated street value of the main illicit drugs destroyed in 2021

  • Methamphetamine: $3.875 billion
  • Cocaine: $533 million
  • Heroin: $349 million
  • Cannabis: $165 million
  • MDMA: $5.4 million
  • Amphetamine: $171 million
  • Total: $5.09 billion

Illicit drugs destroyed by drug type per command


  • Stimulants: 15.7 tonnes
  • Cocaine: 1.1 tonnes
  • Cannabis: 921kg
  • Opiate/Opiod: 845kg
  • Hallucinogen: 168kg
  • Sedative/pharmaceutical/steroid/parcel post: 682.21kg


  • Stimulants: 3.2 tonnes
  • Cocaine: 20kg
  • Cannabis: 260.58kg
  • Opiate/Opiod: 46kg
  • Hallucinogen: 77kg
  • Sedative/pharmaceutical/steroid/parcel post: 3.8kg


  • Stimulants: 679kg
  • Cocaine: 198kg
  • Cannabis: 532kg
  • Opiate/Opiod: 17kg
  • Hallucinogen: 10kg
  • Sedative/pharmaceutical/steroid/parcel post: 546kg

Western Central

  • Stimulants: 260.69kg
  • Cocaine: 19.17kg
  • Cannabis: 505kg
  • Opiate/Opiod: 7.53kg
  • Hallucinogen: 3.5kg
  • Sedative/pharmaceutical/steroid/parcel post: 92.27kg

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