They say money is the root of all evil. With the illicit trade in drugs raking in an estimated £200 billion a year and accounting for almost 1% of world GDP -- the connection between making money and "evil" isn't hard to make. Cocaine is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago, prompting common consensus among policy think tanks and security forces to conclude so called "war"on drugs has pretty much failed to make a dent in the drug trade. There are certain "boom" towns when it comes to the illegal trade in drugs, not to mention the murder rates, human trafficking and crime that often go hand-in-hand.
When it comes to "drug tourism" Holland has the market cornered. The government have recently reclassifed some drugs and closed down "coffee shops" in an attempt to move away from the drug tourism it attracts. But the city's historical connection to the trade has meant suppliers have called the place home and used drug money to operate human trafficking rings.
When it comes to drug consumption, Britain tops the poll of European countries. A report by the European Union's drug agency found that class A drug abuse in Britain was the highest among any other European country and the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) found that 9.3% of people aged 16-59 have taken an illegal drug in Scotland.
Russia and western Europe import over half the world's heroin supply. Russia has an estimated 1.8 million heroin users and an ever growing HIV problem due to addicts sharing needles.
Typically drug consumption and drug production can be divided along the same lines as developed and developing countries. Leading the world in drug consumption is the US market for Mexican cartels. Consumption in North America has shrunk in recent years which some analysts argue has led to more violence between cartels fighting over a shrinking market.
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Cannabis is the world's most widely used drug and Morocco is one of the biggest producers. Its geographical position also lends itself well to the European market, with drugs being smuggled from Northern Africa through Spain and Italy. The cannabis trade is however dying down as more and more cannabis is being home grown. Vietnamese gangs run cannabis factories in the UK and control about 75% of the market.
Although coca production has actually dropped by an estimated 28% and there are on-going peace talks between the government and FARC, Colombia remains the world's largest exporter of cocaine. While production decreases in one country, it rises in another. A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed coca production jumped by 38% in Peru and 112% in Bolivia.
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Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Violent crime and homicide are everyday occurrences in the US-Mexico border towns, where cartels make an estimated £9bn a year on the drugs trade. The authorities regularly discover complex networks of underground tunnels (pictured) that the cartels use to ship drugs to the US market and bring back weapons which fuel the never ending war.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime listed Burma as the world's second largest opium producer, accounting for 25% of production. The UN found that the farm land used for growing poppies had risen by 17% in 2012. The boom in production is directly related to the huge increase in heroin use in Asia.
The worn-torn country produces 90% of the world’s heroin which adds up to about 6,900 metric tons. Opium is a huge cash crop for poor farmers and US troops have largely turned a blind eye to opium production in an effort to win hearts and minds and concentrate on the "war on terror." Even if they did decide to burn opium fields, the UN estimates that enough opium has been stored to ensure supply for the next 25 years.
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