Value of the Illegal Drug Trade in Spain

Havocscope has calculated the possible financial value of drug trafficking in Spain to be $95 Billion based on the following data.

According to the Daily Mail (UK), 30 percent of all 500 Euro Bills in circulation were held in Spain. With 559 million individual 500 Euro notes in circulation, 167 million 500 Euro Bills were in Spain.

It has been well documented that drug traffickers favor the 500 Euro Bill due to its high denomination. It is much easier to move millions in drug revenue with the 500 Euro rather than a $100 Bill. Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom stated that up to 90 percent of all 500 Euro Bills in circulation in the country have traveled through the hands of organized criminals.

Using the 167 million 500 Euro Bills in Spain and estimating that 90 percent of those bills were used for criminal purposes leads to 150 Million 500 Euro Bills in Spain from ill-gotten gains.

150 Million X 500 = 75 Billion Euros ($95 Billion based on May 19, 2010 exchange rate).

Spain is considered to be a key gateway to drugs entering the European Union, and this figure is in line with other European drug trade markets, such as the $83 Billion drug trade in Italy.

Please note that this figure is an estimate and it meant to show the possible amount of money involved in the drug trade in Spain. If you have additional data or another method to determine the drug trafficking market in Spain, please comment below.

Source: Caroline Graham and Adam Luck, “How the 500 euro is financing a global crime wave of cocaine trafficking, the black market and tax evasion,” Daily Mail, January 30, 2010.

and  Source: Dominic Casciani, “500 euro note – why criminals love it so,” BBC News, May 13, 2010.