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SOC/NAR/764
24 June 1997

REVENUE FROM ILLICIT DRUGS: $400 BILLION -- '8% OF TOTAL GLOBAL TRADE', SAYS UNITED NATIONS REPORT

24 June 1997


Press Release
SOC/NAR/764


REVENUE FROM ILLICIT DRUGS: $400 BILLION -- '8% OF TOTAL GLOBAL TRADE', SAYS UNITED NATIONS REPORT

19970624 VIENNA, 24 June (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations, which has its drug control and anti-crime offices here, will unveil on Thursday, 26 June, a new World Drug Report, which is the first comprehensive overview of worldwide trends on all aspects of the drug problem -- including production, trafficking, abuse, interdiction, rehabilitation and prevention.

Among the findings reported are the following:

-- In the United States and the United Kingdom, between one fifth and one half of illicit drug use is financed by crime;

-- A key input for the near constant growth of the illicit drug industry is a seemingly endless stream of willing recruits for the most menial tasks; the availability of cheap labour ensures bigger profits for the drug kingpins;

-- With an estimated total revenue of $400 billion per year, illicit drugs represent approximately 8 per cent of total international trade; in 1994, this figure was larger than global trade in iron, steel and motor vehicles, and about the same level as world trade in textiles;

-- The most important role of organized crime in the illicit drug industry is to provide investment capital, which mafias and cartels often raise from other types of crime;

-- The current trends in money laundering are towards increasing professionalism and internationalization;

-- Environmental destruction is a serious by-product of illicit drug production, with cocaine and heroin processors dumping vast quantities of toxic chemicals and waste products of the extraction process into countless small streams and rivers or burying them underground; and

-- Estimated global interception rates for smuggled drugs are 10 to 15 per cent for heroin and 30 per cent for cocaine.

The report also provides a more detailed look at the drug situations in eight selected countries: Australia, Colombia, Italy, Pakistan, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States.

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The 332-page report, richly illustrated with maps, graphs, tables and photographs, is published by Oxford University Press. The World Drug Report is not to be confused with the annual reports of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which is a watchdog body independent of the United Nations.

The Report will be presented at a Headquarters press conference on Wednesday, 25 June, at 11 a.m. in room S-226.

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For information media. Not an official record.