Putting Drug Profits into Perspective

US Coast Guard Helicopter Photo by PA2 Jeff Hall in Miami, FL

MIAMI—The drug war is waged at full strength in police departments all across the United States and in Mexico too, where infamous El Chapo was caputred and is being held after escaping capture for a second time through a tunnel under his cell, but the two countries couldn't be further apart on a way to cooperate together and unravel the powerful and complicated hold the illegal drug industry has on Mexico and Central and South America. The farmers grow to earn a living and sell to the exporters who profit often by means of blood shed to do business. In Mexico, police and public officials are known to work with the cartels and there is growing outrage and political pressure from the constant violence for control of the "plazas" (main drug routes to the U.S.). The guns and the cash go south and the dope goes north, as they say. Mexican cartels sell drugs to other major countries around the world too.
The Drug War
Before Mexico's cartels and entrepreneurship by sheer violent force became the new norm, Pablo Escobar of Columbia was the wealthiest and most sophisticated worldwide trafficker but also ravaged competitors, "snitches" and other threats with savage gruesomeness. Brutal violence has always been the way illegal drug cartels do business. Asian cartels are ruthless as well. A column in Business Insider explored the most wealthiest drug kingpin of all time's history in one of the cartel member's books. The article details how Escobar lost more than $2 billion (estimated) a month due to rats eating it in storage, stashes of cash getting lost or the bills getting damaged. They even told a story of Escobar burning a couple million dollars in cash to keep the family warm during a period of running from authorities and hiding out. But what is most striking is that the infamous drug smuggler hardly noticed. That's how much money he was raking in in profit. We are talking several million per day. Miami was a key point of entry for his empire to make major entry and eventually grow as he tapped into the growing demand in the U.S. The exchange rate made Pablo so rich in his country that he virtually ruled it himself. He smuggled around 15 tons of coke to the U.S. daily, it is estimated.

Local ABC 10 News in Miami reported an amazing cash seizure of $24 million and an automatic weapon in Dade County in Miami Lakes. The cash was mostly stashed in buckets. That is a lot of money to just discover and officers said it was like something out of a movie. But could you imagine a Pablo Escobar bust? It's like capturing the devil or King Kong. The same is true with El Chapo but Escobar still holds the crown for wealth accumulation as a drug smuggler. At least two men were arrested after an investigation into their possible activities of transporting marijuana between Tennessee and Florida. They were surprised at their find. These guys are just fish in a pond, a mere pebble to the global illegal drug trade run by various cartels, mafias and armed groups, many partially, secretly or in some indirect way involved with government. Drug profits are suspected to have been used as a tool during the Iran-Contra Ronald Reagan scandal involving Freeway Ricky Ross, known to have introduced "Ready Rock", or crack to American streets starting in South Central Los Angeles. American law enforcement can be complicit in the illegal trade as well. It is also alleged the U.S. army guards poppy fields in Afghanistan, a global leader in opioid production for black markets.

According to Inter American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and United Nations (UN) estimates:
Illegal drug trade market - $320 billion
Retail drug market in the Americas - $150 billion