Afghanistan is producing over 90% of the world’s legal heroin and it is the leading producer of cannabis. You can imagine that there is a huge opportunity for drug cartels and corruption to thrive there. Actually Afghanistan relies so much on the production of such drugs that if it were to stop, the entire county could probably collapse. So, legally or not, they have to trade these drugs to sustain their tribe. There are around 1.5 million opioid users in Europe. In 2005 there were 7.000 “acute drug deaths” in Europe. In Russia 30.000 people die because of drug abuse every year, and they have are around 2.5 million drug addicts. Even in Afghanistan there are around 1.5 million drug addicts. All of these are thought to be fueled by the Afghan trade-business (legal or not).
“Corruption associated with the opium economy has spread to all levels of the Afghan government from the police to the parliament, and is eroding the rule of law. Farmers routinely bribe police and counternarcotics eradication personnel to turn a blind eye. Law enforcement personnel are also paid off by drug traffickers to ignore or, in some cases, protect their movements. Afghan government officials are now believed to be involved in at least 70 percent of opium trafficking, and experts estimate that at least 13 former or present provincial governors are directly involved in the drug trade…In some cases…[local leaders] are the same individuals who cooperated with the United States in ousting the Taliban in 2001. “ (source)
And just to emphasize the power of a single individual, one drug lord in Afghanistan made some $250 million from selling more than 120.000 kg of heroin. In the same year, he alone was responsible for over 20% of all the world’s heroin production. (source)