Monday, September 15, 2008

DRUGS: A BUSINESS FOR OUR TIMES

Sam Smith, Progressive Review - Since there is so much bad financial news these days, we thought this might cheer you up. The drug business is doing extremely well, thanks in large part to years of de facto subsidy by the perversely misnamed "war on drugs."

A recent CNN report said the Coast Guard had seized $4.7 billion worth of cocaine last year. That's only the amount the Coast Guard seized and it's only the value of cocaine, not all the other drugs.

The value is just shy of the $4.83 billion Google earned in the last quarter of last year. At the time Google had about 16,000 employees.

When you are able to lose $4.7 billion a year in just one product line and still keep growing, you've got an impressive business.

Back in 1997, I interviewed Billy Bear Bottoms, the pilot for one of the biggest drug importers of the time, Barry Seal. Bottoms told me that Seal had made about 50 trips of 300 kilos each, or approximately 16 tons total.

The Coast Guard recently seized one vessel - a self propelled semi-submersible that costs up to a million bucks to build - and found seven tons on the craft or 21 times as much as the notorious Seal was able to transport on one trip. Another of this year's seizures amounted to more than Seal was able to import on 50 flights.

One day, and sadly far too late, we will finally learn that the biggest driver of the drug trade is US law enforcement.

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