Substance Abuse

Information and statistics about substance abuse around the world. Statistics also includes drug addiction rates, drug trafficking information, and sales and prices of the illegal drug trade.

The American Chamber in Mexico conducted a survey of  541 companies from US, British and Japanese companies that operate in Mexico in order to determine the rate of extortion by drug trafficking cartels. Out of the 541 companies, 36 percent of companies reported receiving extortion attempts by criminal gangs in 2013. In the previous year, the number of companies reporting extortion threats was 18 percent.

28 percent of the firms surveyed stated that they had hired additional security personnel and consultants. About 4 percent of total costs were related to security costs.

Source:  Associated Press, “US chamber study: Drug cartels’ extortion demands on businesses make big jump in Mexico,” Washington Post, May 29, 2013.

In 2012, pharmacists in Afghanistan who test drugs that were seized in the country found crystal meth samples in 48 incidents during the year. The number of crystal meth samples was tripled from the year before.

Dealers in Afghanistan who sell crystal meth receive a lighter sentence if caught. A crystal meth dealer faces up to 1 year in prison for carrying 1 kilogram of crystal meth. In comparison, an opium dealer caught with 1 kilogram of heroin would be sent to prison for an maxim of 10 years.

A single hit of crystal meth on the streets of Afghanistan costs about $20, five times the amount of a single hit of heroin.

(Additional Meth Prices Worldwide.)

Source:    Amie Ferris-Rotman, “Growing crystal meth use blurs drug-hungry Afghanistan’s future,” Reuters, May 29, 2013.

A report released by the Collective Security Analysis for Democracy stated that there were 2.8 million unregistered firearms in Central America, and an additional 15 million unregistered guns in Mexico.

According to the study, the majority of these guns are used by organized crime gangs and drug trafficking cartels to carry out their illicit activities.

The Central America Region has the world’s highest gun-homicide rate, with 41 people being killed by guns per 10,000 people.

According to statistics released by criminal justice programs, Honduras has a gun-homicide rate of 85.5 people per 10,000, followed by El Salvador with 69.2 homicides, Guatemala with 38.5, Mexico with 22.7, Panama with 18, and Costa Rica with 11.3 gun-related homicides.

The World Health Organization states that 5 homicides per 10,000 is considered normal, with over 10 homicides per 10,000 being an “epidemic”.

The unregistered guns in the region comes from four main sources. The first source is through straw buyers who purchase firearms on behalf of the drug cartels. The second source is by purchasing guns from corrupt military soldiers in Guatemala and Honduras. The third source is finding left over supplies from the civil wars that took place in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s. And the last source of unregistered firearms is through the crafting of home-made weapons known as chimbas. The guns are handcrafted and uses a welded pipe and can fire a single shotgun cartridge.

(Prices of Ak-47s and other firearms on the black market.)

Source:  Sergio Ramos, “Weapons trafficking increases in Central America, Mexico,” Infosurhoy, May 30, 2013.

More arms trafficking data.

Financial experts estimate that up to $17 Billion of money from drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking in Colombia is laundered each year. The amount of money laundering that takes place in Colombia is over 5 percent of the country’s GDP.

Out of the total amount laundered in the country, an estimated $8.8 Billion is proceeds from Colombia’s illegal drug trade.

In 2012, federal security officials seized $128 Million worth of black market products, less than 10 percent of the total illicit trade.

In an example of how the money is laundered, authorities stated that one way is through fake gold sales. Colombia produces 15 tons of gold each  year, but the amount of gold that is exported from the country is reported to be 70 tons. The bulk of the higher reported gold sales is believed to be fictitious sales.

(More examples of money laundering.)

Source:  Helen Murphy and Nelson Bocanegra, “Money laundering distorts Colombia’s economic comeback,” Reuters, May 28, 2013.

The Turkish Pharmacologists Association takes between 2 to 30 days to import cancer treatment drugs for over 30,000 patients each month. Due to this delay, a black market managed by hospital staff has developed in hospitals across Turkey.

According to media reports, the cancer treatment drug Deticene normally costs $27 (52 Turkish Liras). If a patient wanted to quickly purchase this drug on the black market, then the price for the drug is $482 (900 Liras). The leukemia treatment drug Purinethol is normally priced at $4.83 (9 Liras), but was being sold by illegal vendors for $64 (120 Liras).

(More abuse statistics and facts about prescription drugs.)

Source:  “Lack of cancer medicine leads to black market,” Hurriyet Daily News, May 28, 2013.

In the state of Michoacan, the organized crime group Knights Templar has expanding its reach over its territory and has begun charging people extortion fees.

According to a report by the Associated Press, sawmills owners were being charged nearly $10 (120 Mexican Pesos) for each cubic meter of wood sold. Broken down, the cost of the extortion fee would be around $0.10 for each  2X4 sold.

The Knights Templar also charged avocado farmer $160 (2,000 Pesos) for each hectare of avocado trees.

In both instances listed above, when the owners failed to pay, the Knights Templar set fire to their properties.

The group was also reportedly charging a cattle farmer up to $80 (800 to 1,000 Pesos) in extortion for each head of cattle that was raised in his farm.

The Knights Templar is an off-shoot of the La Familia Drug Cartel.

(See more facts about organized crime in today’s society.)

Source:  Associated Press, “Mexico Cartel Dominates, Torches Western State,” NPR, May 22, 2013.

Police in Uganda arrested 780 people for drug crimes and had 312 people convicted in the criminal justice system in 2012.

3 people were convicted in the country for cannabis farming, 6 people were arrested for marijuana crimes, and 48 acres of cannabis were destroyed during the year. An addition 70 kilograms of cannabis seeds were seized by police.

Officials state that marijuana cultivation is increasing in Uganda as farmers view it as a cash crop. Some land owners rent out their land to marijuana farmers.

Security personnel also destroyed over 2,257 kilograms for marijuana and 20 kilograms of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine that it has previously seized.

In a report by Planet Money of NPR, a Special Agent with the California Department of Justice stated that an estimated 1 in 15 packages that are being shipped out of the State of California is filled with marijuana that was grown in the state.

Officials say the cause for the increase in marijuana being shipped out of state is due to the increase in cultivation from medical marijuana growers.

The Planet Money team also interviewed a marijuana dealer who moved out of California due to the high levels of competition and difficulty in making a profit. As of May 2013, the dealer was selling an eight of an ounce of marijuana in New York City for $60. Back in California, that same eight would probably be sold for $30 to $45.

(Marijuana prices by country.)

Source:  Marianne McCune, “Go East, Young Marijuana Dealer,” NPR, Planet Money, May 22, 2013.

In the Australian city of Melbourne, paramedics were called to respond to 592 cases of crystal meth usage during 2011-2012. In the 2010-2011 year, city paramedics dealt with 282 cases of crystal meth, and 136 cases in 2009-2010.

Officials say that the calls for crystal meth problems spike during the weekends.

(Methamphetamine facts and user addiction information.)

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Australia has the highest price of meth in the world, with a gram costing $614.

Source:  AAP, “Meth use doubles across Melbourne: report,” Sydney Morning Herald, May 14, 2013.

According to a federal agents, a prison gang was operating a racket within the Baltimore City Detention Center in the state of Maryland. Documents filed in federal court by the FBI stated that one gram bags of marijuana were being sold in the jail for $50. Pain killers were being sold for $30 a pill to inmates.

(Police corruption and the effects on governments.)

In addition to the contraband drugs, female corrections officers were having sex with the inmates. According to the FBI, four correction officers became pregnant from one inmate.

In an article in the Washington Post, the article says that the names of 14 female guards were written on a wall and that each woman was charging $150 to have sex with an inmate.

(See additional illegal prostitution prices.)

Source:  Theresa Vargas, Ann E. Marimow and Annys Shin, “Baltimore jail case depicts a corrupt culture driven by drugs, money and sex,” Washington Post, May 4, 2013.

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