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Date: Wed, 11 Mar 98 00:38:45 CST
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Global Drug Trade Reaches Staggering Proportions
Article: 29691
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.22497.19980312121655@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 497.0 **/ ** Topic: DRUGS: Global Drug Trade Reaches Staggering Proportions ** ** Written 3:11 PM Mar 5, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Global Drug Trade Reaches Staggering Proportions

By Thalif Deen, IPS, 2 March 1998

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 2 (IPS)—The illegal drug trade has reached staggering proportions throughout the world and is now the most profitable and underground business—and it’s still growing, warns U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan

The illegal trade in narcotics, he points out, has a captive market of about 190 million addicts and users worldwide, and is estimated to be worth more than 400 billion dollars a year.

It is larger than the oil and gas trade, larger than the chemicals and pharmaceuticals business and twice as big as the motor vehicle industry, Annan says.

The Paris-based International Police Organisation (Interpol) says that drug business is second only to the world’s arms trade which is estimated at more than 800 billion dollars annually.

The estimated turnover of 400 billion dollars has the power to corrupt almost everyone, according to R.E. Kendall, secretary- general of Interpol.

In a renewed attack on the spreading social evil, Annan says that drugs are tearing apart our societies, spawning crime, spreading diseases such as AIDS, and killing our youth: our future.

No country is immune, he declared, And alone, no country can hope to stem the drug trade within its borders.

Since the globalisation of the drug trade requires an international response, the United Nations is trying to fight drug abuse through the U.N. Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in Vienna. Established in 1991, UNDCP is currently coordinating drug control strategies both at the regional and global level.

Annan says that renowned Italian crime fighter, Pino Arlacchi, has brought new vitality and credibility as the new head of UNDCP in its fight against drugs.

The Secretary-General says that a Special Session of the 185- member U.N. General Assembly on drugs will help sustain the momentum. Scheduled to take place in June in New York, the Assembly session will be attended by a large number of heads of state who are expected to voice their support for a broad new attack on the scourge of illegal drugs.

In May 1999, the United Nations, in collaboration with several South American countries, is planning a conference of international investors to discuss alternative development. The participants will be presented with projects that would underline the advantages of investing in agricultural produce, such as cocoa, rubber and palm derivatives.

Meanwhile, the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says that rising profits from the global drug trade were outstripping the national wealth of rich and poor nations. The amounts of money involved in drug trafficking were assuming such proportions, it said, they were now capable of tainting or destabilising global financial markets.

Estimates are in the order of several hundred billions of dollars a year and exceed the gross national product (GNP) of most countries, according to the Board. Most of the money stems from illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse throughout the world, it said.

In a report last week, the INCB admitted that large-scale transit trafficking in cocaine from South America to North America continues. The abuse of cocaine in Central America and the Caribbean (in some countries in the form of crack) is spreading fast as a consequence of the large-scale transit traffic.

In the light of the increasing transit traffic in heroin, governments in the region should undertake measures to prevent a spillover effect, which could lead to the spread of heroin abuse, the INCB says.

In South America, joint transborder operations have led to the seizure of substantial amounts of drugs and to the dismantling of trafficking organisations.

The Board says that in several countries, laws against money laundering have been adopted in the last few years. However, more concrete regulations and improved organisational systems must be put in place in order to achieve more practical results, the report noted.

Despite some eradication efforts and significant seizures in some countries in Africa, the region remains a major supplier of cannabis resin to domestic illicit markets and to Europe.

More recently, cannabis from Africa has also been finding its way to North America, according to the report. Several seaports and airports in Africa have become major transit centres for cocaine from South America destined for Europe and for heroin from Asia destined for Europe and North America.

Illicit opium poppy cultivation, opium production, heroin manufacture and opiate trafficking remain major drug problems in Southeast Asia, particularly in Myanmar, according to the report. Cannabis grows wild in several countries in the region and large- scale cultivation has been reported in the Philippines.

The INCB points out that drug trafficking is so pervasive that it has also triggered money-laundering operations on a global scale. Money-laundering entails surreptitiously introducing money of criminal origin into the legitimate channels of a respectable business in order to make it appear normal and legal.

No country, rich or poor, large or small, equipped with sophisticated machinery to fight money-laundering or not, can consider itself safe from money-laundering activities, the report says.