The drugs trade today is centred on Afghanistan where since the Western invasion of that country the poppy crop has increased 15 fold. Somehow this poppy crop is refined into heroin and finds its way into America, the UK and Europe, without any criminal gang owning a single cargo plane, freighter or lorry.
America’s DEA spends a billion and a half dollars a year trying to stop drug dealers but only interdict 10% of what is coming in, whilst the rest is repriced to cover shrinkage. We do the same in the UK and recover even less, even based on the Home Office crime figures derived from the police, which the ONS says are “statistically unreliable”. Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington puts it more colorfully “Chief constables have been fiddling the crime figures for years”.
Drug money is keeping the American and global banking system afloat, at the same time as US worker productivity is being damaged by opiates. One can add up figures from exports and domestic consumption subtract tax and quickly see that huge inflows of unaccountable monies are entering the system. This was the case with HSBC PLC, whose branches were allegedly used by just one Mexican drug cartel to launder billions. HSBC were fined 1.5 billion dollars by the New York State prosecutor, at a time when the head of the bank was advising David Cameron when he was Prime Minister.
Steve Bannon knew all this before he met Trump, so he can hardly finger wag now. The drugs trade is the world’s biggest industry and without it the global economy would collapse and have to rebuilt. Steve Bannon can rail against Trump’s enemies but his powers are limited.