Illegal drug trade

Market with drugs is well known and it is boosting the economy and making profits for as long as human have found out its potentials. In history great powers such as the United Kingdom and other countries were making a fortune out of the drug business.

Different countries regard drug trafficking differently and use different penalties. Regardless the punishment, be it a period of incarceration, flogging or even death penalty, the drug trade makes around 1% of the global GDP. Drug trafficking seems to be highly profitable with different value markets around the world for different illegal products.

Major drug trafficking routes of opiates and cocaine



Source: UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)

Many different illicit drug roads exist and it is depending on the product production location. Different policies, drug strategies, action plans, laws and other initiatives, creation of agencies, actors for prevention, regulation and punishment, regional and international cooperation cannot prevent the ever more globalized drug market which is interconnected with organized crime and is spreading also via the internet. It puts great burden on national health budgets, with different treatment and addiction programs all in all drug usage also increase the risks of different diseases.

Percentage distribution of people in treatment, by primary drug type and by region


Source: UNODC

Just to have broad perception and picture of the ration between production and confiscation I will look closely into heroin production. Opium poppies are grown illicitly mainly in South-West Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), South East Asia (Myanmar and Laos) and the Americas (Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala). Major part of opium is produced in Afghanistan. Along the so called Balkan route the largest seizures of heroin were reported. UNODC and INCB reported of estimated numbers of annual production for 2010 to 216.000 tones and in comparison to worldwide seizures that reached 65 tones the seizures represent only the peak of the iceberg. The data show that numbers of seizure of drug cases were grates in road and rail than confiscated via air transport and the smallest number of seizer cases from 2006 to 2014 was made via maritime transport. Quantities of seized drugs varies and was the biggest from 2006 to 2008 in maritime transport and in the years that followed in road and rail transport. The smallest quantity was found via air transport.

Global trends in main drug supply indicators


Source: UNODC
Opiates key facts


Cocaine key facts


We can see the rhetoric in international relations against the usage of drugs, but that it’s all there is just rhetoric. International organizations are not doing concrete actions to prevent the trade. There exist also other ways to tangle the problems of illegal drug trade, one of them is a more strict regulation about certain chemicals that are basic for making heroin and other illegal and harmful substances. There is no regulation who could possess such chemicals or evidence who is working with them.

I am not just some conspiracy theories supporter, but I like what Daniel Estulin wrote in his book, Shadow Masters: How Governments And Their Intelligence Agencies Are Working With Drug Dealers And Terrorists For Mutual Benefit And Profit who do you think plans productions, transport, chemical production, distribution and all process of laundering the money and profits in the global financial system? Do Afghan and people from major producing countries of drugs have that kind of capacity or have their indirect support of global actors? Some evidence of meetings of high representatives with the leaders of drug cartels exists. Intelligence services around the world are connect with drug cartels and actors from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to Iran. The drug business is opening the doors to modern hell on earth. It looks like the reality can be better than imagination only by looking the situation regarding the drug trafficking in some modern countries such as Kosovo. It looks like the world cannot afford the loss of income from the drug business. In history drugs were also reasons for starting wars, making profits and making the capitalism going further.

Teja Palko
Teja Palko
Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.