Don’t believe newspaper numbers about drugs

Dawn raids smash £50bn gang hiding heroin in fruit and veg

Err, no.

A £50 billion drug trafficking network believed to be Britain’s largest has been “dismantled from top to bottom” after a international operation, the National Crime Agency said yesterday.

Really, no.

The NCA said the drugs had been hidden in lorries carrying vegetables and juices from the Netherlands. Jayne Lloyd, its head of investigations, said: “We suspect this was a sophisticated crime group and we think we have now dismantled them from the top to the bottom.”

The gang had mainly targeted the UK, she said, and were believed to have been “involved in an industrial-scale operation, the biggest ever uncovered in the UK, bringing in tonnes of deadly drugs that were distributed to crime groups throughout the country”.

OK, so this is a UK operation.

Inquiries led the NCA to believe that 50 tonnes of drugs worth billions of pounds had been imported between February 2017 and October 2018.

That lasted 18 months perhaps?

So, problem one. Whatever the value of what they were doing it was obviously the wholesale value, not the street. Dealing drugs is known to be profitable so therefore there’s a price difference between wholesale and street. And always, but always, our valuations given are of street value. Nonsense that is.

But there’s more here. The total – street – value of the drugs trade is some £5 billion a year for the UK. We even include this number in GDP these days.

So, the claim is that this one drugs gang was moving, into the UK, over a period of 18 months, an entire decade’s worth of the total UK market – at street prices. And people expect us to believe this number?

Or, actually, The Times expects us to believe this number? Because it’s not in the NCA press release.

13 comments on “Don’t believe newspaper numbers about drugs

  1. It still doesn’t make sense.

    If the value of the heroin they confiscated over 18 months was worth £50bn at street prices, and the annual market is around £5bn, why were they shifting so much? Especially if we expect the street product to have been bulked out by the time it is dealt.

    Were they redistributing to other markets too? Can’t think of any other reason to have multiple decades of supply.

  2. The point being that the £50 billion number is tosh in the first place.

    They’ve taken “50 tonnes of drugs” and assigned the value of heroin to each and every tonne. When cannabis is rather cheaper per tonne.

  3. And, from what I hear, this interception hasn’t moved the street prices one iota. In fact they seem to have been remarkably stable over the past 2 or 3 years. Which, given the fall in the value of sterling, means they’ve got cheaper in real terms.

  4. “A £50 billion drug trafficking network believed to be Britain’s largest has been “dismantled from top to bottom””

    Jesus, does anyone still buy this crap 30 years after it was being said.

    The people who inform the police about what a drug gang is doing are mostly… OTHER DRUG DEALERS. I mean, you’ve got some guys who can hand out violence, but it’s much cheaper to set the fuzz on them to get them out of the way and take over their turf.

    You’re never going to lower the level of a crime that doesn’t have a victim and doesn’t have public support. Like, I was walking around a city with a dozen people and there was a guy sat on a bench smoking a joint. It seemed like a brave move, but not one person cared.

    It’s like the “Brexit will raise the level of dogging in Kent”. Who honestly cares about dogging? They do it in a couple of places near me, but it’s after dark and way out in the country. It’s a good economic use of a park. I’m more worried about the participants catching a chill.

  5. I think it’s always been the case that the police and other authorities involved have been happy to inflate the supposed value of seizures in order to look more effective and no doubt the media is also happy to go along with that, or further inflate, to create more sensational headlines.
    In the days when I knew a few druggies they would always find the estimates of “street value” hilarious (even when they hadn’t been smoking weed).

  6. “I’m more worried about the participants catching a chill.”

    One suspects that a chill is the least of their infectious worries……………

  7. I was going to point out that this would raise drug prices, drawing more people into the trade, but bis says it has made no difference in street prices.

    The more effective government is at prohibition, the better the business becomes. Heroin and marijuana are cheapass agricultural products, made expensive by government.

  8. The numbers in articles about drugs are always bollocks. I suspect the £5bn annual drugs trade turnover is a back of a fag packet calculation too.

    There are millions of people in the UK who take drugs. There are also millions of people the world over who would like to make a few quid by exporting drugs to the UK. This has not changed. The removal of one British wholesaler will make no difference to the market.

    The Times itself has been reporting that coke in London is getting ever cheaper and better quality due to competition from Albanian gangs. Who, now I think about it, probably shopped this lot to the Met.

    @Gamecock – spot on. 90% of the negative effects of the drugs trade are down to prohibition. No one gets murdered in Bordeaux as a consequence of their particular drug, nor do Carlsberg and Heineken feel the need to slaughter each other in turf wars.

  9. valuations given are of street value. Nonsense that is.

    Old Not the Nine O’clock News joke: Police said the drugs seized were worth £1 million, which proves they’re paying four times what normal people pay for their drugs.

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