If you needed more reasons to stop using illegal drugs – apart from their damaging effects on your mind and body, the cost, and the potential implosion of your relationships – here’s one for you: the drug trade helps fuel terrorism. This sounds like the sort of rhetoric that was part of the failed War on Drugs, attempting to scare or shame people into sobriety, but believe it or not, it’s true. In 2008, Michael Braun, then chief of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, spoke before the U. S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics in Washington, D.C. about the connection between drugs and terrorism. He pointed out that (at that time) more than 40 percent of the Taliban’s money came from the illicit trade of opium. These hybrids of drug cartels and terrorist organizations often aren’t motivated by ideology at all, simply using their terrorist rhetoric to mask their real goals of making money. In fact, strict Islamic doctrine forbids the use of drugs.

There are a couple of ways that the two types of organizations co-exist. Since many of the territories where drugs are grown are until terrorist control, some terrorist organizations simply tax the drug traffickers and farmers directly. The terrorists get money to fund their operations, and in return the drug traffickers benefit from weapons and protection given by the terrorist organizations. The other possibility is that the terrorist groups and drug cartels are actually one and the same. For example, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), who want to overthrow the government in Colombia and replace it with a dictatorship, use profits from drug trafficking as the main source of funding for their terror activities.

As one example of the global impact of drug trafficking, roughly 40 percent of the cocaine that reaches Europe each year arrives from Colombia and Peru by way of Africa. One route across the Atlantic Ocean is called Highway 10, which refers to the 10th parallel. When drugs are shipped along this route by air, they usually land in the country of Mali in West Africa.  Another major route is called The Southern Route, where heroin is smuggled out of Afghanistan through Iran and sent across the Indian Ocean to Africa, where it also eventually ends up in Mali. Factions of al-Qaeda there have been battling over the drug business for years. Currently, security alerts warn against all but essential travel to Mali, because of the high likelihood of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.

Similarly, Isis has control of much of the Middle Eastern and Asian drug profits, and in 2016 more than 11 million of the amphetamine pills that Isis fighters are given were seized at Syrian borders. Hezbollah has a presence in the tri-border area (TBA) in South America, which is well known for all manner of illegal activities. Hezbollah makes money off drug trafficking, which it then sends back to Iran.

So, the next time you’re about to hit up your dealer for a bag of coke, consider just where your money might be going.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.



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