The Infrastructure of Illegal Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is a global illicit black market dedicated to the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of prohibited drugs. Among the drugs commonly traded through these black markets are cannabis, heroin, and methamphetamines. Alongside oil and arms, drugs are one of the world’s most highly trafficked goods, even though its illegality makes it difficult to keep track of how much money is actually poured into the system. The UNODC estimates that there is at least $400 billion spent per year.


The infrastructure behind drug trafficking can be divided into three main layers.

The top layer consists of the consumers — the ones who ultimately end up with the drug.

The bottom layer consists of the producers — these are the people who cultivate and grow the drugs. Much of the world’s drug production is done in Asian and South/Middle American countries.

The middle layer is what links the producers and the consumers. Drugs travel across the world via manufacturers, distributors, and sellers. In between, there are also the people who package the drugs, ship the drugs, etc. There must be people in all sectors, in all levels, involved in the drug trade for these illegal activities to take place without legal repercussions.

Money is also an important medium in dealing with drugs. Money needs to travel from the users to the sellers, then to the manufacturers, and must eventually trickle back to the cultivators. In order for the drug trade to be profitable and sustainable, these needs to be quite a bit of money flowing through every level and every layer of the trade.

The middle layer needs to be established, as well as subjectable to change. The services must be constantly evolving in order to escape government interference, but at the same time, there needs to be a sort of consistency in order for the services to be reliable. There must be some sort of standard as well in order for prices to be set, expectations to be met, and profits to be made.


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