May 29, 2023

Revealed: The drug that’s seen a massive spike in use, according to wastewater testing

Watch: Authorities seize half a billion dollars worth of cocaine in one of New Zealand's biggest drug busts.

Wastewater samples have revealed a massive rise in New Zealand’s cocaine use while methamphetamine and MDMA consumption appears to be on the decline.

Police’s national wastewater testing programme results for between July and September (Q3) last year, published this week, showed 980g of cocaine per week on average was detected across 10 sample sites – up 70 percent from the previous four quarters’ average.

“Tāmaki Makaurau continued to consume the most cocaine per capita in Q3 2022,” a summary of the results said. 

“The 0.98 kilograms of cocaine consumed equates to an estimated cost of $0.29 million in social harm per week in Q3 2022.”

Methamphetamine levels in New Zealand, meanwhile, were found to be lower than average in Q3. 

Levels at the 10 NZ wastewater plants tested showed 13.5kg of meth per week on average – down 19 percent.

“Per capita, methamphetamine consumption was highest in Northland District,” said the summary.

MDMA was detected to be the highest per capita in the Southern District but national consumption per week was down by 28 percent on average.

In two other districts, fentanyl was detected in “very small quantities”. Police said no heroin was found.

The testing results come after New Zealand authorities recently seized more than $500 million worth of cocaine in what police said was one of the biggest-ever drug hauls in the country.

About 3.2 tonnes was found “afloat” in the Pacific Ocean in recent weeks and has since been transported back to New Zealand for destruction. 

“This is one of the single biggest seizures of illegal drugs by authorities in this country,” Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said in a statement.

“While this disrupts the syndicate’s operations, we remain vigilant given the lengths we know these groups will go to circumvent coming to law enforcement’s attention.”

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