The Mystery of the Missing Opium
October 10th, 2008
Ask MI6 where it is.
It’s a mystery that has got British law enforcement officials and others across the planet scratching their heads. Put bluntly, enough heroin to supply the world’s demand for years has simply disappeared.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) describes the situation as “a time bomb for public health and global security”.
This week’s Map of the Week comes courtesy of the UNODC. It shows their latest estimate of opium production in Afghanistan - another bumper year.
A crop of 7,700 tonnes will produce around 1,100 tonnes of heroin - it basically works on a 7:1 ratio.The mystery is that the global demand for heroin is less than half that. In other words, Afghanistan only needs to produce 3,500 tonnes to satisfy every known heroin user on the planet.
Look at the graph, though.
For the past three years, production has been running at almost twice the level of global demand. The numbers just don’t add up.
Research Credit: EB, MT, others, sorry lots of email