The Importance of the Illegal Drug Trade
According to the 2005 United Nations World Drug Report, the value of the global illicit drug market for the year 2003 was estimated at US$13 billion at the production level, at US$94 billion at the wholesale level, and US$322–$400 billion based on retail prices and taking seizures and other losses into account.
From Wikipedia "Illegal Drug Trade"
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation also states that The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has made several attempts to put a figure on the value of the global drug market. In its 1997 World Drugs Report the UNODC estimated the value of the market at US$400bn. This estimate has been widely used by the media and law enforcement agencies but has come under criticism from some experts as being far too high.
The economist Peter Reuter has suggested that an inflated figure has resulted from a confusion between turnover – which may run into hundreds of billions – and international trade which is far lower, because most of the added value is within the borders of consumer countries. An international trade worth 400 billion would put drugs alongside arms and oil amongst the world's biggest traded good. The more likely trade figure is nearer (and probably under) 100 billion – more comparable with the global trade in textiles...
In a seminar paper by Francisco E. Thoumi, published by the Transnational Institute, Thoumi says that an unpublished study by Peter Reuter for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) resulted in an estimated range between US$45bn and US$280bn.[3
The point has to be made that whether the figure is $100 billion or $400 billion it is a lot of money and the gangs cannot account for more than a fraction of it. The rest has to be somewhere else and the most likely set of suspects are the people who are already handling billions of dollars such as the offshore money laundries connected to "legitimate" financial institutions or the folks who already have a history of involvement in high-level drug trafficking, namely the CIA. See http://www.wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/6712
Opposition to any reform of the drug laws is understandable. The people most vociferous in their support for the so-called War on Drugs are the people, or are associates of the people, who profit from the drug trade at the higher levels. The insane opposition to cannabis decriminalization also makes sense in light of this. Pot is the physically harmless competitor of all those profitable dangerous drugs and pot decrim could also lead to people wanting a saner approach to coke and smack usage. All of which would put an end to that easy cash flowing in and out of the financial system.
The fact that illegal drugs – and the massive sufferring associated with this black market - may be second only to the arms trade, or at least as large as textiles, points out the decadence of the contemporary economic system. War and drugging people as the biggest sectors of the economy shows a system in profound decay..