What are illegal drugs, except another commodity to be traded?

Either our drugs policy is stupid or crafty. I suspect the latter.

Stupid - if it believes that sending troops abroad to eradicate crops would stop drugs coming in. The evidence in Afghanistan and Colombia proves that it has the reverse effect.

Crafty - if, under the guise of 'eradication' or a 'war on drugs', it actually 'secures' control of illegal supplies and is able to maximise profits by keeping these cheap foreign-made drugs expensive so they don't compete with medicines produced in the UK.

It is feeble minded to suppose that today's British elites take no pointers from our historic past or have suddenly become disinterested in margins...

As with so much of the debate on Comment if Free, the media's framing of discussion of UK involvement in Afghanistan assumes an alruistic intent that was never there in the first place.

A more likely scenario is that our troops are doing great work internationally ... to support our commercial interests.

Leading UK companies produce OIL, GUNS & DRUGS.

To put the following in perspective, BP's reported profits were about £10 billion in 2005. Here are some figures for the heroin trade from Afghanistan, rounded up/down for simplicity and extrapolated from government and UN figures.

1000g opium from Afghan Farmer costs £50
1g street heroin from UK dealer costs £50

1000g opium makes around 150g pure heroin
or 375g street heroin (40% pure)
Afghan Farmer gets £50 for 1000g opium
UK street seller collects £18,750 for 375g heroin
Afghan Farmer sees just 0.26% of the final sale value

The sale value of heroin in UK is 375 x the cost of
basic raw material (opium) needed to make it.

4200 tonnes opium produced in Afghanistan in 2004
from which 650 tonnes pure heroin may be made
Cost to buy in Afghanistan = £210 million
Can make 1600 tonnes street heroin (40% pure)
Street value in UK /Europe = £80 billion

Opium production under Taliban in 2001 = 185 tonnes
Opium production under Karzai in 2004 = 4200 tonnes

Ends | 10 July 2006 | The Leg

comment | back to top | thoughts

Related Graph:

Graph: Pumping up the volume post US/UK invasion in late 2001. The British public were told that part of the rational for a UK troop presence would be opium eradication.

Interesting 1:

'Using its market power to compel Bengalis ryots [peasants] to cultivate opium at below the cost of production, the Company harnessed its monopoly position in such a way that it was making 2000 per cent profit by the time each chest of 63kg was sold in China... the Company was keen to disown any direct responsibility and ensured that the drug was shipped into China by independent agency houses... the opium was grown under Company monopoly in India... The Company also intervened with military force to protect its dominant position...Sales of opium provided the Company with one in seven of its tax rupees in India...Crucially, by 1828, the Company was generating enough revenue from its sales of opium ... to pay for its entire purchase of tea... and, with a tenth of government revenues back in Britain derived from tea duties, the entire imperial edifice rested on a mountain of opium... Extensive parliamentary inquiries... found few faults in the Company's conduct; most agreed that the imperial benefit of the opium trade justified its blatant illegality... only in 1907 did Britain finally agree to stop the export of Indian opium.

From The Corporation that changed the World - How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational by Nick Robins, p151-167

Interesting 2:
'As in Southeast Asia and later in Southwestern Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan), the CIA's secret war in South America led it into conflict with official US policy. The CIA provided arms and equipment (including air transportation) for uniformed warlords who were financed by revenues from cash crops grown by peasants and processed into narcotics. Such operations created a network for clandestine international arms deals that could finance illegal CIA wars without congressional knowledge, much less oversight... Laws against marijuana, cocaine, and heroin did not stem the demand or, therefore, the supply. Local warlords or military and police officials, using arms and equipment provided by the CIA and the Pentagon "to fight communism", established protection rackets that often mushroomed into full-scale trafficking, including processing plants and laundering money through banks. As with Air America and Southeast Asia, the CIA's aviation contractors in Latin America became indirectly involved in the trade by asking few questions about the cargo of CIA clients or became directly involved as participants in drug runs.'

From Thy will be Done by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett p524

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Britain "substantially responsible" for the poppy boom
Karzai appoints 13 police chiefs linked to drugs smuggling

To 2005
Prohibition sustains extraordinary illegal drug profits
Drugs Trade Profit Margins Colombia/Afghanistan : Source

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