The illegal drug trade or drug trafficking is a global black market consisting of the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of illegal drugs. While some drugs are legal to possess and sell, in most jurisdictions laws prohibit the trade of certain types of drugs. The illicit drug trade operates similarly to other underground markets. Various drug cartels specialize in the separate processes along the supply chain, often localized to maximize production efficiency and minimize damages caused by law enforcement. Depending on the profitability of each layer, cartels usually vary in size, consistency, and organization. The chain ranges from low-level street dealers who may be individual drug users themselves, through street gangs and contractor-like middlemen, up to multinational empires that rival governments in size. Illegal drugs may be grown in wilderness areas, on farms, produced in indoor or outdoor residential gardens or indoor hydroponic grow-ops, or manufactured in drug labs located anywhere from a residential basement to an abandoned facility. The common characteristic binding these production locations is that they are discreet to avoid detection, and thus they may be located in any ordinary setting without raising notice. Much illegal drug cultivation and manufacture takes place in developing nations, although production also occurs in the developed world.
by Risown January 28, 2009