Drugs are big business in Nazi Amerika today. In fact, making drugs illegal is the biggest scam the government runs by far.
A major beneficiary, of course, is the U.S. government, which has used the drug war as a pretext to shred the Bill of Rights and claim vast new powers over the American people. That the drug war would lead to the depredation of civil liberties and the erosion of the rule of law was inevitable, given that there is simply no way for the government to effectively enforce its drug laws while abiding by the Constitution.
And as libertarians and many other constitutionalists have tirelessly pointed out, Washington's drug war is illegal because the power to prohibit drugs has never been given to the federal government. Just as with alcohol prohibition, any federal law prohibiting or restricting the production, sale, and use of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.) would require a constitutional amendment.
The war on drugs generates huge profits that enrich drug dealers and drug warriors alike. The dealers get very wealthy shipping and selling their contraband. The drug warriors, for their part, receive billions of dollars a year from the taxpayers and bank a sizeable portion of the war booty their raiding parties routinely snatch up. And this plunder includes more than just "drug money" but any property they suspect might be involved in narcotics trafficking. As the economist Robert Higgs writes,
The drug war has been a bonanza even to law-abiding cops, as the altered forfeiture laws have given the police free rein to seize private property more or less at will. If in the process of padding their budgets the police arrest a throng of street-corner entrepreneurs who subsequently land in prison, well, c'est la guerre. (PDF)
Largess from asset forfeitures and federal grants allows local police departments to augment their salaries, expand payrolls, and purchase sophisticated surveillance equipment, high-powered weaponry, and other menacing-looking paramilitary gear. Indeed, the militarization of America's police departments over the last 35 years has largely been a function of the drug war.
And behind the frontlines of this war is a vast legal-industrial-imprisonment complex employing thousands of judges, prosecutors, criminal-defense attorneys, bail bondsmen, prison guards, and vendors. For the corporations operating privatized "correctional facilities," the drug war provides a steady supply of warm bodies to fill their prison cells.
Another major beneficiary of the drug war is the banking system, which takes in hundreds of billions of dollars annually from narcotics traffickers. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) describes money laundering as "the method by which criminals disguise the illegal origins of their wealth and protect their asset bases in order to avoid suspicion of law enforcement agencies and to prevent leaving a trail of incriminating evidence."
Money laundering is more than just an opportunity for greedy bankers to collect fat commissions. The huge amount of cash churned up by the illegal drug trade has become a vital source of liquidity for the rickety fractional-reserve banking system. UNODC's director, Antonio Maria Costa, told the British newspaper the Observer in late 2009 that proceeds from the illicit drug trade were "the only liquid investment capital" available to many banks on the brink of collapse. In fact, "a majority of the $352 billion of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result."
According to Costa, "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."
The CIA has long been involved in drug trafficking.