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Samantha Felix Samantha Felix

Graphic: Just How Big Is the Global Drug Trade?


According to these estimates, cocaine and opiates have a combined global market that trumps the smartphone market.

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The international illicit drug trade is a multi-billion-dollar business fueled by hundreds of millions of customers worldwide. This infographic by Top Criminal Justice Schools puts some of the numbers in perspective.

More than half of the world’s estimated 245 million people who take illegal drugs use marijuana (that’s an estimated 159,830,000 of us). And the illegal drug markets drive some major moola: Cocaine and opiates combined are estimated to rake in a whopping $153 billion, annually. This just edges the global smartphone market, which is expected to reach a total value of $150 billion by the end of 2014.

So it’s no surprise that drug kingpins have more than once made Forbes’ list of top international billionaires. In 1987, the notorious Colombian cocaine smuggler Pablo Escobar ranked for raking in over $2 billion (even after he apparently had to write off 10% of his income due to rats nibbling on stacks of cash). And he had to spend $2,500 a month on rubber bands to stack money. #Druglordproblems