The countries of drug production have been seen as the worst affected byprohibition. Even so, countries receiving the illegally-imported substances are also affected by problems stemming from drug prohibition. For example, Ecuador has allegedly absorbed up to 300,000 refugees from Colombia who are running from guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug lords. While some applied for asylum,
others are still illegal, and the drugs that pass from Colombia through Ecuador to other parts of South America create economic and social problems.
In many countries worldwide, the illegal drug trade is thought to be directly linked to violent crimes such as murder; this is especially true in third world countries, but is also an issue for many developed countries worldwide.
In the late 1990s in the United States the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated that 5% of murders were drug-related. After a crackdown by U.S. and Mexican authorities in the first decade of the 21st century as part of tightened border security in the wake of the September 11 attacks, border violence inside Mexico surged.
Mexican government estimates that 90% of the killings are
A report by the UK
government's drug strategy unit that was subsequently leaked to the
press, stated that due to the expensive price of highly addictive
drugs heroin and cocaine, that drug use was responsible for the
great majority of crime, including 85% for shoplifting, 70-80% of
burglaries and 54% of robberies. "The cost of crime committed to
support illegal cocaine and heroin habits
amounts to £16 billion a year in the UK."
Due to its illicit nature, statistics about profits from the drug trade are largely unknown. In its 1997 World Drugs Report the UNODC estimated the value of the market at US$400 billion, ranking drugs alongside arms and oil amongst the worlds’ largest traded goods. An online report published by the UK Home Office in 2007 estimated the illicit drug market in the UK at £4–6.6 billion a year.
In December 2009, the United Nations' Drugs and Crime Tsar Antonio Maria Costa claimed that illegal drug money saved the banking industry from collapse. He claimed he had seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse during 2008. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital.
In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor...Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way". Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drug money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame.