Heroin shoes According to the UNODC: Worldwide, more than 17 million people consume illicit opiates (opium, morphine and heroin). The large majority use heroin, the most lethal form. Getting opiates from producer to consumers worldwide is a well-organized and, most importantly, profitable activity. The most lucrative of illicit opiates, heroin, commanded an estimated annual market value of US$55 billion in 2010. When all opiates are considered, the number may have reached up to US$65 billion at that time. Traffickers, essential to the transportation of drugs from production areas to lucrative end-user markets, pocket most of the profits of this trade. A rough estimate of the number of traffickers involved in moving this illegal commodity across countries and regions would likely stand at well above 1 million people. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2010, 2021]
The supply source for this huge underground economy is now concentrated in three areas: Afghanistan, South-East Asia (mostly Myanmar) and Latin America (Mexico and Colombia). Together, they supply nearly all the world’s illicit opium and heroin, but Afghanistan stands out among this group, accounting for around 90% of global illicit opium production in recent years. Based on the annual number of arrests for heroin trafficking reported and a tentative, but very high, arrest ratio of 20% (1 in 5 traffickers arrested, which is most certainly well above the real number).
The retail sales of heroin in the United States alone is worth between $5 billion and $10 billion. In recent decades, heroin has defied the laws of economics, by improving in quality while dropping in price. In the United States heroin prices dropped 40 percent between 1990 and 2000 while purity on the streets in the United States has increased from 7 percent in the 1980s to 26.6 percent in 1991 to 39.9 percent in 1996. Bags of high quality heroin can now be purchased on the streets of New York for as little $25 a bag, compared to $100 for spoon in the 1970s. This has meant that users can get high by snorting and smoking rather than injecting it, and has opened the drug to a whole new market of people turned off by needles. It has also means that high number of people have died from more potent form drugs than they were prepared do to.
In the early 2000s, raw opium produced in the Shan territories of Myanmar sold for $75 to $90 a kilo. About 10 kilos of opium makes one kilo of morphine base, which was prepared near the Thai border and sold for $900 to $1,000 a kilo. The mark up of the heroin producers is only about 20 percent. This reflects the fact that the risk are relatively low and the producers don’t have much pull in the market. There is more risk and profit in transporting heroin. Having control and good distribution are keys to success. Refined heroin sells for $6,000 to $10,000 a kilo in Bangkok and is resold at the wholesale price of $90,000 to $250,000 in the United States. Cut heroin sold in the streets in small packets brings in $940,000 to $1,400,000 per kilo.
The sources of heroin are always changing. Heroin sources in the United States in 1991: Southeast Asia (56 percent), Southwest Asia (37 percent), Mexico (7 percent). In 1996: South America (62 percent), Southeast Asia (17 percent), Southwest Asia (16 percent), Mexico (5 percent). Consumer markets also change. In the 1990s, Pakistan, Thailand, Iran and China accounted for most of the world's heroin consumption. At that time China and India were believed to have the fastest growing markets. In these places prices were low and total sales was probably less than $10 billion. In the early 2000s there were around 500,000 to 600,000 heroin addicts in the United States. Heroin use there peaked in 1973 and has since returned to the numbers in line with those in the mid 1960s. Worldwide use of illegal opiates is declining. According to the United Nations annual report on drugs, issued in June 2009, global use of heroin fell in 2008. In 2009, the Economist magazine reckoned that the production and heroin was roughly the same as it was a decade earlier.
See Separate Article OPIODS: TYPES, EFFECTS AND DANGERS factsanddetails.com HISTORY OF HEROIN factsanddetails.com ; HEROIN USE factsanddetails.com ; OPIUM CULTIVATION AND HEROIN PRODUCTION factsanddetails.com ; FENTANYL AND PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDSfactsanddetails.com
raw opium seized in Afghanistan Richard S. Ehrlich wrote in Asia Sentinel: “When the heroin emerges from laboratories , it enters a multi-layered chain of distribution. Top brokers usually deal in bulk shipments of 20 to 100 kilos. A broker in New York might divide a bulk shipment into wholesale lots of 1 to 10 kilos for sale to underlings. A kilo of Southeast Asian heroin in 1997 costs $100,000 to $120,000, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Oddly, for a shadowy commerce, the one-kilo bricks are brightly packaged and imprinted with brands worthy of Madison Avenue. Heroin originating in Burma's Shan State, for example, sports a red-lettered logo, "Double UO Globe Brand", framed by a pair of lions. “By the time heroin is peddled on city streets in small "bags" at $5 to $100, its value has ballooned more than ten- fold since its arrival in the United States.[Source: Richard S. Ehrlich, Asia Sentinel, May 4, 2012]
“Not many years ago virtually all the heroin sold on America's streets was so heavily diluted that it was rarely more than 10 percent pure. Purity has risen sharply in the mid-'90s — routinely hitting 50 to 60 percent — as dealers have tried to expand their market beyond those addicts who inject heroin into their veins with hypodermic needles. Higher purity means "you can inhale it, you can smoke it, you can get high without the threat of AIDS or those nasty intravenous needles." DEA administrator Thomas Constantine told the Washington Post.
“Greater purity also reflects a relatively high level of worldwide production. In 2011, the illicit output of raw opium amounted to a record 4,300 tons, an increase of almost 1000 tons since 1992, according to U.S. estimates. By an age-old rule of thumb, every 10 tons of raw opium reduces to one ton of heroin.
Heroin is usually smuggled overland. Cocaine is usually smuggled in by air or ship. People sometimes swallow condoms filled with heroin and tied shut with dental floss. Occasionally couriers die when bags of heroin bursts in their stomachs. Heroin has been concealed in lapis lazuli sent from Peshawar, Pakistan to Amsterdam. Waterproof packages have been sunk in the seas with weights made from blocks of sugar and salt and pop to the surface when the weights dissolve. Kittens have been killed and eviscerated and filled with drugs. Some drug merchants have paid parents to use their infant children to smuggle drugs in their baby formula.
Afghanistan is far and away the world’s largest illegal opium producer by any measure. It had the largest amount of land devoted for opium poppy cultivation in the world in 2020, estimated at around 224,000 hectares, more than seven times more than the No. 2 cultivator Myanmar and accounting for more than three quarters of the world’s total acreage used for the cultivation of opium poppy. Since 2010, the volume of opium poppy production in Afghanistan has increased from 3.8 thousand tons to about 8.3 thousand tons in 2020. [M. Shahbandeh, Statista, December 15, 2021]
Main countries for opium cultivation in 2020, based on acreage: 1) Afghanistan 224,0000 hectares; 2) Myanmar 29,500 hectares; 3) Other 40,855. According to the UNODC: Opium production is highly concentrated, with 97 percent of estimated production over the period 2015–2019 coming from just three of the 50 countries worldwide where opium production is reported, directly or indirectly. The country in which the largest amount of opium is produced continues to be Afghanistan. Accounting for an estimated 83 percent of global opium production over the period 2015–2020. Data from2019 indicated that 69 percent of the global area under opium poppy cultivation was located in Afghanistan, 14 percent in Myanmar and 9 percent in Mexico, suggesting that these three countries accounted for 92 percent of global illicit cultivation of opium poppy that year. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Global opium production stabilized in 2020 Global opium production, which has shown a long-term upward trend, remained largely stable in 2020 compared with the previous year. Nonetheless, at 7,410 tons, it was almost 60 percent higher than a decade earlier, although it remained below the peak reported for 2017 (10,240 tons). The stabilization of opium production in 2020 was the result of a decline of 20 percent in opium production in Myanmar and the stabilization of opium production in Afghanistan. This occurred despite the increase in the area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and was the result of a lower yield than in the previous year.
Estimated area under opium poppy cultivation grew in 2020 The global area under opium poppy cultivation increased by 24 percent in 2020 to about 294,000 hectares, primarily owing to increases in Afghanistan, where the area under opium poppy cultivation increased by 37 percent, to 224,000 hectares, the third highest level ever reported in the country.
Illegal opium production in 2000: (tons): 1) Afghanistan (3,276); 2) Burma (1,087); 3) Laos (167); 4) Colombia (88); 5) Mexico (22); 6) Pakistan (8); 7) Thailand (6); 8) Vietnam (2). Production of opiates fell 16 percent in 2008, with the main production centers still firmly in Afghanistan.
The worldwide output of illegal opium in 1996 was 4,000 metric tons, twice the production in 1986. Largest illegal opium producers (1983): 1) Burma (60,000 hectares under cultivation produced 600 metric tons of opium); 2) Iran (20,000 hectares, according to 1980 statistics); 3) Afghanistan (20,000 hectares); 4) (Pakistan 4,500 hectares); 5) Mexico (4,100 hectares); 6) Thailand (3,500 hectares); 7) Laos (3,500 hectares); 8) Egypt (300 hectares).
Opium trade routes
Afghanistan Produced 85 Percent of the World's Opium in 2021
Afghanistan produced an estimated 6,800 tonnes of opium during the 2021 harvest season, which concluded in July. This was 85 percent of the world’s total opium production and accounted for more than 90 percent of worldwide illegal heroin production and more than 95 percent of European supply. [Source: WION Web Team, December 22, 2021]
In Afghanistan, opium growing takes up more territory than coca cultivation in Latin America. Since 2001, the country has been the world's biggest illicit drug producer. Even before they took control of all of Afghanistan, the Taliban has controlled most of the world's opium-growing land, making them the world's most powerful narcotics cartel. It regulates and taxes the production of opioids, monitors exports, and protects smuggling networks.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC, Afghanistan produced 8 percent more opium in 2021 than it did in 2020. According to the UNODC, Afghan opiates are used by 80 per cent of the world's opium users and Afghanistan earned between $1.8 billion and $2.7 billion from the opium trade in 2021, one-tenth of the country's economic output.
Opium Supply from Afghanistan
According to the UNODC: Opium produced in Afghanistan supplies markets in neighbouring countries and in Europe, the Near and Middle East, South Asia and Africa. A small proportion of the opium produced in Afghanistan supplies markets in North America (notably Canada) and Oceania. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Data from2019 indicated that 69 percent of the global area under opium poppy cultivation was located in Afghanistan because of high yields per hectare it produced more than 80 percent of the world's opium. In 2020, the area under opium poppy cultivation increased by 37 percent, to 224,000 hectares, the third highest level ever reported in the country, and more than 80 percent higher than a decade earlier. Increases were reported in most parts of the country, with the exception of the eastern region, where cultivation declined by 28 percent, and two provinces in northern Afghanistan (Balkh and Jawzjan). In Helmand province, which accounts for more than 50 percent of total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, opium poppy cultivation rose by 27 percent in 2020. In a number of other provinces, including Badghis and Faryab, bordering Turkmenistan, and Ghazni and Zabul, close to Pakistan, the areas under opium poppy cultivation doubled.
Estimated yields ranged from about 18 kilograms per hectare in western Afghanistan to 41 kilograms of opium per hectare in eastern Afghanistan, with about 29 kilograms per hectare in south-western Afghanistan, which accounted for 71 percent of total opium production in the country in 2020.Opium yields in Afghanistan thus continued to exceed those in Mexico (around 21 kilograms per hectare in 2018/19)247 and were double those in Myanmar (around 14 kilograms per hectare in 2020).
Drug prices in Afghanistan suggest the availability of heroin continues unabated Global opium production remained high in 2020 and there have been no indications of any shortages in the supply of the drug to consumer markets in recent years. Heroin prices increased at the beginning of 2020 in Afghanistan and remained quite stable until July 2020 before gradually decreasing to the level reported in mid-2019. Although it is difficult to attribute the price hike of heroin in early 2020 to any factor in particular, a temporary shortage of acetic anhydride in Afghanistan could have been a factor.
Opium Supply from Myanmar and Southeast Asia
Myanmar production was around 14 kilograms per hectare in 2020 and total opium production in 2020 was down 20 percent from the previous year. Data from2019 indicated that 14 percent of the global area under opium poppy cultivation was located in Myanmar but because of low yields per hectare it produced around 10 percent of the world's opium. Myanmar’s opium yields of 14 kilograms per hectare in 2019 and 2020 were about half that of Afghanistan. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
According to the UNODC: Opium produced in countries in South-East Asia, mostly Myanmar (accounting for 7 percent of global opium production) and, to a lesser extent, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (about 1 percent of global opium production), supplies markets in East and South-East Asia and in Oceania.
The area under opium poppy cultivation continued to decline in Myanmar and fell by 11 percent, to 29,500 hectares in 2020. Since 2013, the area under opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar has shrunk by almost 50 percent. Opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar continues to take place mainly in Shan State (bordering China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Thailand), which accounted for 84 percent of the total area under opium poppy cultivation in that country in 2020.
Opium Supply from Mexico and the Americas
Mexico is where most opium in the Americas is produced. Data from 2019 indicated that about nine percent of the global area under opium poppy cultivation was located in Mexico but because of low yields per hectare it produced around six percent of the world's opium. Opium yields in Mexico were around 21 kilograms per hectare in 2020, about two thirds that of Afghanistan.
According to the UNODC: Opium produced in countries in Latin America, mostly Mexico (6 percent of global opium production) and, to a far lesser extent, Colombia and Guatemala (less than 1 percent of the global total each), accounts for most of the heroin supplied to the United States and the relatively limited heroin markets of South America. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Data available for the period 1 July 2018–30 June 2019 showed a decline of 23 percent in the area under opium poppy cultivation compared with the same period a year earlier, to 21,500 hectares, the smallest area since 2014. At the same time, most of the opium poppy continues to be grown in six states located along or close to the Pacific coast, most notably the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, in the north, and the state of Guerrero, in the south.
Heroin Trafficking Routes Out of Afghanistan
According to the UNODC: The main opiate trafficking flows continue to depart from Afghanistan, the country where the vast majority of global opiate production takes place. These flows supply markets in neighbouring countries, most notably Iran, Pakistan, countries in Central Asia and India, as well as countries in Europe, the Near and Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Small proportions are smuggled to Southeast Asia and Oceania. Some 83 percent of the total global quantities of heroin and morphine seized in 2019 were related to opiates produced in Afghanistan.[Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Based on mentions of countries of origin, departure and transit by countries in Western and Central Europe, more than 70 percent of the heroin in Western and Central Europe seems to have transited the Balkan route over the period 2015–2019, some 18 percent transited the southern route and 7 percent the northern route, while 3 percent may have originated in Southeast Asia.
“According to the authorities of the Iran, most of the heroin and morphine trafficked from Afghanistan transits Pakistan before reaching the Iran. In 2018, 90 percent of the morphine and 85 percent of heroin seized in the Iran had transited Pakistan and only a small proportion had been smuggled directly from Afghanistan. Heroin is mostly trafficked by land into and out of the Iran (95 and 97 percent, respectively, in 2019). Typically, heroin is then smuggled to Turkey or to countries in the Caucasus (75 percent of all heroin seized in the Iran in 2018) and, to a far lesser extent, to Gulf countries (5 percent of seizures in 2018). The remainder is used domestically (20 percent in 2018).
These patterns seem to have remained the same in 2019 and 2020. In Turkey, heroin is mainly trafficked from the east to the west of the country. On the basis of preliminary data on individual drug seizures, it appears that, in addition to ongoing heroin seizures in the east of the country, around Istanbul and near the border with Bulgaria, some significant seizures of heroin were also made near the border with the Syrian Arab Republic in 2020, suggesting that some heroin is also trafficked through that country in order to avoid controls along the border between the Iran and Turkey.
According to the UNODC: Most opiates originating in Afghanistan are trafficked along the Balkan route and its various branches, the world’s single largest heroin trafficking route. On this routeopiates are smuggled from Afghanistan to the Iran, Turkey, the Balkan countries and various destinations in Western and Central Europe. Excluding seizures made in Afghanistan, countries along the Balkan route accounted for 50 percent of the total global quantities of heroin and morphine seized in 2019, with a further seven percent reported by countries in Western and Central Europe, of which a significant proportion was trafficked along the Balkan route.[Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
From Turkey, heroin is typically trafficked along the Balkan route to Western and Central Europe, either along the western branch of the route via Bulgaria to various western Balkan countries and then to markets in Western and Central Europe or, to a lesser extent, along the eastern branch of the route, which goes via Bulgaria and then to Romania, Hungary and other markets in Western and Central Europe.
In 2019, the largest quantities of heroin and morphine intercepted along the Balkan route were, as in previous years, reported by the Iran (36 tons). Turkey reported seizing 20 tons and the Balkan countries a total of 1 ton. By comparison, countries in Western and Central Europe seized a total of 9 tons in 2019
Heroin trafficking across the Caucasus gained in importance prior to 2019 Heroin and morphine seized in the three Caucasus countries rose from 0.3 tons in 2017 to 1.9 tons in 2019, with most of it reported by Azerbaijan, close to the country’s borders with the Iran. From from 1 ton in 2017 and 1.9 tons in 2018 to 4.5 tons in 2019. That increase is linked mainly to the use of the northern route by trafficking groups from outside the subregion, who make use of citizens from various countries to traffic heroin on trucks via the Iran and countries in Central Asia. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
From Azerbaijan, heroin is typically either trafficked to markets in the Russian Federation or to Georgia, and then across the Black Sea to markets in Western and Central Europe. Georgia reported that 70 percent of the heroin that entered the country in 2018 had transited Azerbaijan and 20 percent had transited Armenia. Georgia reported that 90 percent of the heroin that entered the country in 2019 did so by land, and the rest by air.
A temporary increased importance of the Caucasus region as a trafficking route for supplying opiates to markets in the Russian Federation was identified in 2018, when 40 percent of the heroin found on the Russian market was reported to have transited Azerbaijan, up from 30 percent in the previous year. In 2019, however, the Russian Federation no longer identified Azerbaijan among the three main departure countries of heroin found on its territory. Instead, those three countries were Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Moreover, the primary destination for heroin seized in Azerbaijan in both 2019 and 2020 was Ukraine, followed by Georgia and a number of countries in Western and Central Europe, not the Russian Federation..
Nonetheless, while the importance of the Caucasus route for supplying heroin to the Russian Federation may have declined, a number of heroin seizures made in 2019 and 2020 in the North Caucasian Federal District of the Russian Federation, in particular close to seaports, suggest that heroin continues to be trafficked through the Caucasus, albeit in small quantities, or is trafficked via either the Caspian Sea or the Black Sea to the Russian Federation.
According to the UNODC: The northern route is used by trafficking groups from outside the subregion who use of citizens from various countries to traffic heroin on trucks via the Iran and countries in Central Asia, but also via the Russian Federation and Belarus, to final destinations in Western and Central Europe. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Examples of this trafficking pattern include: 670 kilograms of heroin originating in Afghanistan, which was seized in May 2019 in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, on a truck on the way from Kyrgyzstan to Belgium driven by a Turkish national living in Kyrgyzstan; 1.1 tons of heroin seized in Kazakhstan on a truck that had departed the Iran for a final destination in Germany, which involved nationals from Germany, Iran, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia and Turkey; and the seizure of 550 kilograms of heroin in Minsk, Belarus, in November 2019 that had been trafficked via the northern route for onward trafficking to the European Union, again involving a number of foreign nationals.274 Seizures along the northern route of large heroin shipments destined for Western and Central Europe were not reported in 2020, however.
Trafficking in heroin along the northern route may have increased in 2019 while decreasing to final destinations in the Russian Federation Trafficking in heroin along the northern route, which goes from Afghanistan, through Central Asia mainly to markets located in the Russian Federation, has decreased substantially compared with two decades ago, when the heroin and morphine seized in countries along the route amounted to more than 10 tons and represented more than 10 percent of global seizures of those opiates trafficked from Afghanistan. The proportion was 4 percent in 2019, up from just 1 percent in 2018, reflecting an increase in the quantities of heroin seized along the northern route.
See Separate Articles HEROIN AND OPIUM TRAFFICKING IN CENTRAL ASIA; factsanddetails.com ; NORTHERN ROUTE: HEROIN AND OPIUM TRAFFICKING FROM AFGHANISTAN INTO CENTRAL ASIA factsanddetails.com ; COMBATING DRUG TRAFFICKING IN CENTRAL ASIA factsanddetails.com
According to the UNODC: Increasing quantities of opiates are being trafficked along the southern route, including to South Asia and Europe The southern route includes an array of other trafficking routes running mostly south from Afghanistan. Opiates are mainly trafficked along the route via Pakistan and/ or via the Iran to India, for domestic consumption and re-export to countries in the region, and to Africa, for local markets and re-export to Europe. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Seizures of heroin and morphine reported by countries along the southern route (excluding Pakistan) rose from 2.7 tons in 2015 to 9.4 tons in 2019; their overall share of the global quantities of seized opiates that resulted from opium produced in Afghanistan rose from 3 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2019. Some of this increase has been linked to an increase in opiate shipments from Southwest Asia to South Asia.
Data on the prevalence of the use of opiates suggest that South Asia (most notably India) may be home to the largest number of opiate users worldwide (17 million people). or 39 percent of the global estimate in 2019, i.e., far more than in any other subregion) and may have experienced very strong increases in opiate use over the past two decades. Significant quantities of the opiates needed to meet domestic demand in South Asia are likely to be smuggled from Southwest Asia; for example, 40 percent of the total quantity of heroin seized in India in 2019 came from Southwest Asia. In 2019, India reported a particularly strong increase (157 per cent) in heroin shipments from Southwest Asia by sea.
Although to a far lesser extent, South Asia continues to receive heroin shipments from neighbouring Myanmar (less than 1 percent of total heroin seized in India and 5 percent of the total heroin seized in Bangladesh in 2019 originated in Myanmar). However, while Bangladesh reported that 95 percent of the heroin seized in the country in 2019 originated in India, the origin of significant amounts of heroin seized in India remains unknown.
Although countries in Western and Central Europe are mostly supplied by heroin trafficked via the Balkan route, the use of the southern route is not uncommon. Of all reported mentions of origin, departure and transit by countries in Western and Central Europe in relation to heroin, 18 percent referred to trafficking along the southern route over the period 2015–2019, mainly via Southern and East Africa (notably South Africa, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar and United Republic of Tanzania), the Gulf countries (notably Qatar and United Arab Emirates) and India.
The two European countries reporting seizing the largest quantities of heroin that had been trafficked along the southern route in the period 2015–2019 were Belgium (via Burundi, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda) and Italy (mostly by air via Pakistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Oman). In 2019, most (98 per cent) of the heroin seized in Belgium arrived by ship from the Iran. By contrast, most (84 per cent) of the heroin seized in Italy in 2019 arrived by air, mainly via Ethiopia, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates; this stands in contrast to the previous year, when most (60 per cent) of the heroin seized in Italy arrived by sea, mostly from the Iran.
The single largest seizure linked to trafficking along the southern route in 2020 appears to have been a shipment of 1.1 tons of heroin, found in a container on a ship docked at the port of Felixstowe, United Kingdom in September 2020, which had been en route to Antwerp, Belgium, with the final destination being a warehouse in the Hague, the Netherlands. A year prior to that, in September 2019, a similar seizure had also been made in Felixstowe, when 1.3 tons of heroin were discovered in a container on a ship from Pakistan that was destined for a warehouse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.Heroin trafficking is on the decline in East and Southeast Asia, although the subregion still supplies.
American Supply of Heroin
According to the UNODC: Most of the heroin trafficked in the Americas continues to come from within the region The main opiate trafficking flows in the Americas continue to start from key production areas in Latin America, principally Mexico and, to a far lesser extent, Colombia and Guatemala. Heroin originating in those countries accounts for most of the heroin supplied to the United States and also supplies the still-small heroin markets of South America. Canada, by contrast, continues to be supplied mainly by heroin from Southwest Asia.282 Most heroin (and morphine) trafficking in the Americas takes place within North America, from Mexico to the United States and, to a far lesser extent, from Colombia and Guatemala, typically via Mexico, to the United States. [Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Drug Report 2021]
Most of the samples of heroin analysed in the United States in 2018 originated in Mexico (93 per cent), while a small proportion originated in South America (2 per cent) or was classified as of “inconclusive South American” origin (4 per cent). There has thus been a substantial increase over the last decade in the share of the heroin samples in the United States originating in Mexico (38 percent in 2008) at the expense of those originating in South America (59 percent in 2008).283 On the basis of the quantities seized, heroin trafficking within the Americas, including in North America, remained stable in 2019 compared with the previous year, at about 10 tons, although that is more than double the quantity seized a decade earlier. Expressed as a percentage of the global quantities of heroin and morphine seized, the share seized in the Americas increased from 4 percent in 2009 to 8 percent in 2019.
Text Sources: 1) “Buzzed, the Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy” by Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., Scott Swartzwelder Ph.D., Wilkie Wilson Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center (W.W. Norton, New York, 2003); 2) National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 3) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and 4) National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wikipedia, The Independent, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, , Lonely Planet Guides, and various books and other publications.
Last updated April 2022