Why cocaine is the trafficker’s drug of choice

Something New Every Day – Lecture 12 Drugs and poisons

Cocaine is extracted from the cocoa leaf via hydroclauric acid to make cocaine hydrocholoride (aka:  ‘snow’, ‘flake’, ‘blow’). 110 million pounds of cocoa leaves are produced in South America per year and the people at each end of the chain are the exploited ones while the men in the middle make all the money. A grower might get $250 for 500 pounds of cocoa leaves (.50c per pound).

The manufacturers turn that into 1 pound of pure cocaine which they sell for $1000 (400% profit).  Traffickers dilute it with god knows what (to make it stretch to 5-pounds) and ask $25,000 for that (netting them a 2,500% profit with a product that’s only 20% cocaine). On the streets, dealers cut that 5-pounds down into one-pound lots, and sell them at around $150,000 per pound (300,000% profit). At every single stage the sellers cut it with whatever they can get away with and the street sellers flog it in one gram increments for whatever they can get for it (but around $600).

So, at one end of the production chain the sad, addicted user is paying $600/gram for horribly diluted and potentially deadly cocaine mixed with god knows what (the same weight of totally pure cocaine the manufacturers paid just $4 for) and at the start of the chain the growers get 0.0001c for the raw cocoa leaves.

*shakes head* No wonder it’s amongst the biggest industries in the world. And that’s just one drug.

‘Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works” is a The Great Courses DVD lecture series