MDMA is purer, more readily available than ever in New Zealand

It looks like ecstasy or MDMA - the party drug that shot to popularity in the 1980s - is back.

Drug intelligence reports obtained by Newshub show world production of ecstasy has expanded, purity has increased, and more of it is being sent to our shores.

Experts say crime syndicates are trying different ways of getting the drugs here without being detected, and part of that has involved changing production zones.

The Netherlands has long had a reputation as the "MDMA capital of the world", with most of the chemical manufacturing occurring there. On average, police there are shutting down one lab every two weeks.

But now production is happening in places like Belgium, Germany, Canada and China too. Not only that, but Dutch syndicates are shifting the countries used to send drugs here.

"MDMA traditionally comes from the Netherlands, but what we are seeing is a broadening of that," says National Drug Intelligence bureau manager John O'Keefe.

MDMA is the most commonly purchased drug by Kiwi users of the dark net, and most of it is coming into the country in a raw or powered form.

In 2016, 8.3 kilograms of MDMA was picked up at the border. This increased seven-fold to 60 kilograms last year.

And 87 percent of the MDMA seized here is being picked up through the mail, as Kiwis go online and use the dark net.

Intelligence reports obtained by Newshub show the Netherlands is the biggest exporter of MDMA to New Zealand, with 22 kilograms of MDMA powder and another 571 pills seized at our border last year.

This was followed by Germany, with 17 kilograms of raw MDMA powder, and the UK, Italy and Spain after that. Most pills came from Ireland, with more than 1000 seized at the border here.

And official documents point to "increased availability and purity".

Wendy Allison, a drug testing advocate, says more real MDMA and fewer dodgy substances are turning up in testing.

"It's a significant increase. It's gone from about 70 percent to around 90 percent over the last two years of samples," Know Your Stuff's managing director says.

But fake or ultra-high dose MDMA - like the drugs which killed two Sydney festivalgoers last year - haven't disappeared altogether.

"We're very concerned about the way people take pills - not knowing what has actually been put in there, how good the cook is, how pure the MDMA is," Mr O'Keefe says.

He says law enforcement agencies are developing ways to track sales and identify those sellers and buyers who may think they're anonymous.