Drug Money: the illicit proceeds of opiates trafficked on the Balkan route
In the context of controlling the supply and demand of illicit drugs, and lessening their burden on the social and economic fabric and stability of United Nations Member States, UNODC has set itself the goal of improving understanding of the economics behind the illicit trafficking of opiates originating in Afghanistan, the source of the majority of the world's illicit opiates.
To that end, this study estimates the monetary value (value added) of illicit opiates trafficked on the main conduit for illicit Afghan opiates to Europe, the so-called "Balkan route". Accounting for a significant portion of global consumption of illicit opiates, the Balkan route (through the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey via South-Eastern Europe to Western and Central Europe) is one of the most important heroin trafficking routes in the world. For the purposes of this study, the 31 countries (not including Afghanistan) that make up the Balkan route, as well as the territory, Kosovo under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, are collectively referred to as the "Balkan route" or the "Balkan route countries".
Using data reported during the 2009-2012 period, this study estimates the monetary value of Afghan opiates trafficked on the Balkan route by estimating the combined quantity of illicit opiates consumed and seized in the Balkan route countries and by assessing the trafficking networks that link them in order to calculate the gross profit made from opiate trafficking at the country level. This study also explores the monetary value of these illicit proceeds in relation to the GDP of the countries involved.