The vast profits of organised crime in Australia would pack a 16,000 cubic metre hall with $100 notes every year, Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor estimates.

This equates to A$15 billion ($18.8 billion), the amount the Australian Crime Commission says is ripped from the economy by drug cartels and other crime syndicates.

"To put it into perspective, if we could recover the money lost to organised crime over the last four or five years, we could return to a budget surplus without doing anything else," he said in releasing the commission's latest report on organised crime.

"Every dollar stolen through organised crime activity is a dollar that cannot be spent on education, health or any number of services," O'Connor said.

"In this way, organised crime steals from every Australian citizen every day."

The report says globalisation, greater movement of people, goods and money across borders and rapidly developing technologies have presented organised crime with unprecedented opportunities.

Increasingly sophisticated criminal operations included narcotics, money laundering, fraud, corruption, tax evasion, counterfeiting, identity theft and people smuggling.

"If there is an opportunity to make money, organised criminals will try to exploit it," O'Connor said.

"[Crime syndicates] are adaptable, innovative and fluid, infiltrating a wide range of industries and markets, well beyond areas generally considered vulnerable."

The report said syndicates were using counter-intelligence and counter-surveillance to protect themselves, and embraced violence, intimidation and extortion to generate fear and to out-compete legitimate business.

Drugs remained their major Australian market. "Australians are among the world's highest per capita consumers of illicit stimulants, and drug prices in Australia far exceed prices overseas, making domestic drug production and importation highly profitable," the report said.

It said cocaine production, supply and use had risen to new highs, distributed by some of the most sophisticated, profitable and powerful criminal networks in the world.

Mexican cartels had been identified among other Central and South American cartels as one of the key suppliers.

The report said the Mexicans were becoming "deeply entrenched" in Australia and internationally, winning footholds on most continents and producing profits that rivalled the economies of some small nations.

O'Connor said an operation by Australian agencies last year demonstrated the scale and emerging business alliances of crime groups.

Operation Hoffman had uncovered an international drug-importing network straddling Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, South Africa, Tonga and Hong Kong, with links to members of outlaw motorcycle gangs and to Australian and Hong Kong-based associates of Chinese criminal syndicates.

"This is a clear example of how organised criminals form new alliances and alignments to pursue their illegal objectives."

It also showed organised crime networks operated like multinational enterprises.