The Global Drug production, smuggling and distribution is worth $400 billion


– by Shenali D Waduge –

The global drug trade contributes to higher profits than human smuggling or diamonds. Only the arms trade has a slight edge. The profits shared from drugs is distributed to those associated within the chain and include rural farmers, urban dealers, middlemen, transporters, big and small businesses and even politicos. 5% of the world’s population from age 15 to age 64 use illegal drugs with 230million victims while the problem users number 27million. Yet, the legal “drugs” in the form of prescription drugs alongside alcohol and tobacco outnumbers the illegal victims! So which is worse?

The main illicit drugs are heroin, cocaine, cannabis, ATS (amphetamine type stimulants as amphetamines, methamphetamine and ecstasy). The single largest marketplace for illegal drugs continues to be the United States. Drugs and Guns are the two most profitable industries in the world. If the Illicit Drug Industry is the second largest industry in the world, the Anti-Drug Industry, or DEA, is the next largest. The scenario is no different to the anti-terrorist industry as well.

Intelligence agencies operate the world’s drug trade.  Not many would be aware that the CIA is a creation by British intelligence in 1947 and remains loyal to the international bankers based in the city of London and the global elite aristocratic families like the Rothschild’s and the Windsor’s. This link is worth reading – The CIA controls the world drug trade just as the British Empire was financed by their control of the opium trade through the British East India Company. It should also come as no surprise that Wall Street and major American banks relay on drug money as liquid capital. Thus, we should not expect the media-government-banking nexus to ever end the war on drugs – we would be hallucinating to think that this thriving industry would see a closure. CIA involvement in drug trafficking was first exposed during President Bush Snr’s time. Now with US occupation of Afghanistan the opium production has skyrocketed with US soldiers and private contractors protecting the poppy fields and safeguarding the cultivation. This means the US controls the source of cheap high quality heroin which is ruining people right round the world. We are well aware of CIA involvement in the Contras, CIA’s arming guerillas in Afghan whose leader Hekmatyar was a leading heroin supplier, CIA also helped the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) whose leaders were financed by Kosovo drug-traffickers. It was in 1979 that the first contact was made between heroin-trafficking Afghans and before that time no heroin had reached US. By 1984, 54% of heroin entering US was from the Afghan-Pakistan border today that supply throughout the world is now over 90% and through Afghanistan.

Afghan farmers sell around 7000 tons of opium annually. This is around 1000 tons of heroin which is worth $900million in revenue for the farmers, $1.6billion for local traffickers within Afghanistan, $1.5billion for the smugglers of heroin out of the country. So if CIA does the contacts, provides the protection, transport, organizes the chemicals to process raw opium into heroin and you put all the industries and people associated with this into the chain one can work out the maths behind the profits.

Afghanistan is just one of CIA’s drug trafficking fronts – there is Columbia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Central and South America. All the proceeds go to buy elected officials, judges, entire police departments, law enforcement agencies, customs agencies and the corruption works across the world. So who will ever stop the drug epidemic when everyone is more or less involved and enjoying its profits?

So when President Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” in 1972, or when President Reagan made drug enforcement a national security priority, US anti-drug spending went into billions with anti-drug enforcement officers sent round the world when the supply is being controlled by the US. It is really no different to the War on Terrorism for the counter-terrorist activity runs into billions while the US takes the lead in the manufacture and sale of arms as well as the creating and nurturing rebels and militant movements round the world and illicitly supplying arms to them.

So both War on Drugs and War on Terrorism is a farce with tax payers forking out billions ($70billion annually for drugs) for operations and operatives that are hardly likely to see dividends for the investments made except a handful of cases to show something is being done.

Legal drugs

Today the world virtually eats, breathes and sleeps on some kind of prescription medication. Is it then a surprise that hospital admissions had also increased by 36% and OPD or emergency room visits has also increased by 28%.

It is said that more people die from prescription drugs than those taking illegal drugs. 4.6million Americans have had to rush to US emergency rooms in 2009 because of adverse affects from prescription drugs. In the US 37,485 people died from drugs, as a result of overdoses on prescription pain and anxiety medications, versus 36,284 from traffic accidents.

In a June 2010 the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported records from 1976 to 2006 revealed that from 62million death certificates a quarter-million deaths were in a hospital setting due to medication errors. The costs of adverse drug reactions cost more than $136billion annually and injures or brings death to 1 out of 5 hospital patients.

There is a misconception in the approach to drugs and what needs to be said clearly is that by making drugs legal it does not make the situation less dangerous. Thus, drugs are declared illegal because they are dangerous and pose a threat. The argument that legalizing drugs would eliminate the allure of doing something illegal is too childish a notion to accept.

Some of the top legal drugs have no therapeutic value (ex: Vioxx) but bring most high revenues to the pharmaceutical companies. In the US psychotropic drugs are the best seller in prescription drugs and 11% Americans from 12 years over use them for mental health conditions – psychiatry is a $300billion industry. 60% of the world’s psychotropic drugs are consumed by Americans and explains the increase in suicides also attributed to US war veterans!

Previously statins becamse America’s best selling drugs. One in every 4 American is taking statins and is a $25billion industry. However research now reveals cholesterol has nothing to do with predicting heart disease and lipid theory of heart disease was based on faulty research! Whats more artificially lowering one’s cholesterol can lead to Alzheimers while athletes on statins are at the risk of damaging muscles.

So nations’ end up putting drug users, middlemen and the lower rung of the drug chain in prison but the real kingpins enjoy all the profits because there is an unholy marriage between the pharmaceutical companies and the authorities. The pharmaceutical industry is the largest political lobby in the US and spends $244million on lobbying and can greatly influence Congress decisions. This same scenario prevails in other countries too.!

Families opting to choose natural treatments instead of the “approved” legal drugs would find the Government authorities taking action for not following the US state drug program! A family opting for less toxic methods for the cancer treatment for their son was sued by the state of Michigan for not taking the prescribed treatments.

Illegal Drugs

The U.S. is the No. 1 nation in the world in both legal and illegal drug use. In 1980, 40,000 were in prison for drug related crimes, today that number exceeds 500,000. A Pew study says it costs the U.S. an average of $30,000 a year to incarcerate an inmate, but the nation spends only an average $11,665 per public school student.

270million drug users prevail worldwide. Over 125million are cannabis users. Cannabis use was highest in Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), with up to 15 percent of 15- to 64-year-olds using the drug. Oceania also had the highest use of amphetamines, with 2.8 percent of that age group using drugs such as speed and crystal meth. Opioid use, including heroin use, was highest in the Near and Middle East (up to 1.4 percent of 15- to 64- year-olds). Cocaine use was highest in North America (1.9 percent).

Some alarming facts:

· 90% of imported heroin is of Turkish origin

· Euromonitor International Survey (2005-2010) found UAE citizen alcohol consumption increase from 30.4 to 36.8 litres.

· Saudi Arabia alone spends over $1.5 billion [on Viagra and other anti-impotence medicines every year

· Saudi Arabia is the world’s sixth largest consumer of sex drugs

· World Health Organisation (WHO) has named Malaysia as the world’s tenth largest consumer of alcohol.

· Afghan officials estimate that the Taliban earned about $100 million between 2011 and 2012 from the opium poppy industry

· The UN says Afghanistan has around one million heroin and opium addicts out of a population of 30 million, making it the world’s top user per capita (its adult population is only 9million)

· drinking is becoming a common part of many lives in the Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia

· Arab countries spend more than $10 billion on Viagra and other anti-impotence medicines every year

How drugs are trafficked into nations

Innovative and creative methods have been adopted over the years to smuggle drugs into countries. Some of these methods include: lollipops with heroin, drugs stuffed into replicas of famous works of art, inside new breast-implants, puppies implanted with heroin (dogs meant to die after delivery), the garment industry is also involved with liquid cocaine on to the clothing which later can be turned to powder form, this escapes most customs checkpoints, at times cocaine has been found to be hidden on garment hangars also – the ways drugs get into the country is far more sophisticated than we can even imagine. Once on land the chain of stake holders that take over distribution and transportation ensures their futures are sealed for good – unfortunately these profiteers have no religion, no nationality and no ethnicity – their common goal is money.

The real gangsters of the drug world

The drug industry spends much on promotion. In 2009 they paid $282million to doctors to “educate” them on new drugs – these are the legal drugs with potential to be far more dangerous than illegal drugs! These “promotions” are generally accompanies with gifts, remunerations, holidays and even posh cars! Since publicity and negative ones can cause embarrassments, the drug industry has been quick to infiltrate the “independent” media and help them decide what gets printed and what does not. Should we be surprised when the Murdoch empire accepts undisclosed amounts of sponsorship money from the drug industry? But then Rupert Murdoch’s son, James is a member of GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate responsibility committee and he is also the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation Europe and Asia as well as Chairman of BSkyB.

What is equally alarming is that scientific studies have to be paid for and when drug companies are paying for such it only means that what gets documented is what they want read. If statins studies have been funded by the drug industry we do not need to speculate on what the conclusions are likely to be and to get editorials praising the studies is peanuts just as it is to get a handful of unacknowledged ghostwriters to contribute regularly to medical journals. When Big Pharma spends $448milion on advertising in medical journals we do not need to go far to conclude how far they influence what we read as well.

So whether it is legal or illegal drug the situation is really just about the same.

While the world is supposedly fighting a “war on drugs” against illegal trafficking of cocaine, heroin, marijuana the real drug dealers are the pharmaceutical companies are the white collar drug dealers and these people are allowed to grow their businesses without any fuss. This is so because prescription drugs can be just as addictive as illegal drugs because there is hardly much difference. Hydrocodone is a prescription opiate – it is synthetic heroin. Anyone who is hooked to hydrocodone is no different to a heroin addict! US had 2.6m prescription drug abusers in 2007.

Painkillers is another means that people become addictive towards. Morphine is a painkiller and as addictive as heroin. Most commonly prescribed painkillers (OxyContin, Vicodin, Methadone, Darvocet, Lortab, Lorcet and Percocet), while offering relief from pain, can also cause individuals’ bodies to start “needing” the drugs in order to feel just “normal.”

The pharmaceutical industry never gets exposed because of the nature of their business, the frauds involved, the kickbacks that silence people, the price-setting, bribery and illegal sales that ensures people brush ethics and integrity under the carpet.

The record of some of these Big Pharma are not too difficult to trace – but then the damage is already done. Merck has $5.5billion in judgements and fines levied against it. It recalled the painkiller Vioxx only 5 years after warnings were made public and 60,000 had died from taking it. Baxter had more than 200 lawsuits many associated with selling AIDS-tainted blood to hemophiliacs and more than $1.3billion in criminal fines and civil penalties while Pfizer was ordered to pay $2.3billion for allegations that it illegally promoted painkiller Bextra, antipsychotic Geodon, antibiotic Zyvox and anti-epileptic Lyrica.


When referring to drugs or terrorism or any other illicit global trade the issue of money laundering cannot be omitted. The “dirty money” inside the international banking system is difficult to identify its origin because of the clandestine nature of the operation. The estimated amount of money laundered globally in one year is 2 – 5% of global GDP, or $800 billion – $2 trillion in current US dollars. HSBC was found guilty of money-laundering. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch added, “HSBC’s blatant failure to implement proper anti-money laundering controls facilitated the laundering of at least $881 million in drug proceeds through the U.S. financial system…” Yet 25 years ago the Bank of Credit and Commerce International Bank (BCCI) elped former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and the Columbian Medellin cocaine cartel convert millions of dollars into pesos. The HSBC scandal shows how the illicit drug trade is completely integrated into the world financial system.

It is not difficult to connect the illicit trades that prevail globally and much of the planning and plotting is done by the white collar elite but it is those in the lower rung of the chain who end up thrown into the gallows and punished therefore the chain is unlikely to see much change or the world is unlikely to see any eradication. the efforts made by authorities ends up simply a whitewash with the foundation of the crime still very much in place and only the icing changed from time to time.

Drugs, terrorism, moneylaundering and all other vices are all connected to the same lot of people and by following the money trail the real criminals can be found.