Numbers about drugs

Mexico seizes $4 billion in methamphetamine


The sheer scale of the bust announced late Wednesday drew expressions of amazement from meth experts. The 15 tonne haul could have supplied 13 million doses on the streets of the United States.

Umm, what?

$4 billion divided by 13 million is $307 a dose. That sounds a bit high for meth, given that the whole point of meth is that it is a relatively cheap drug. And they\’re positing that the dose would be a little over a gramme (1 million grammes to a tonne).

Actual prices seem to be around $80 a gramme.

Or if we say that it\’s 15 million 1 grammes doses then that\’s 15 million x $80 or $1.2 billion.

Ah, but that\’s US retail pricing. And this gear was in bulk in Mexico. Add in the smuggling value (yes, of course drugs are worth more inside the US than outside) and the wholesale discount and we\’re probably looking at something in the $120 million to $500 million range.

Yes, sure, it\’s still a big number. But just goes to show: don\’t ever trust law enforcement numbers about drugs. They\’re as crooked as the anti-counterfiters numbers about what is lost to counter-fiting.

11 thoughts on “Numbers about drugs”

  1. Ah, crystal meth. A genuinely dangerous drug that would probably not have been abused if it wasn’t for the war on drugs.

  2. dunno about crystal meth, but a gramme of good quality “ordinary” amphetamine is a lot more than one dose – perhaps 10 big fat lines that will each keep you up all night.

    I wonder that it is clear two decades since I last took speed – strange things one does when young.

  3. Funny how it affects people differently. I take (prescribed) amphetamines, and I can take a 20 mg dose and fall asleep half an hour later.

  4. It’s not “worth” anything unless the Feds are going into business for themselves. In fact it has negative value since presumably they’re not just going to flush it down the loo and so there are non-trivial disposal costs.

  5. since presumably they’re not just going to flush it down the loo

    Can you imagine the Environmental Impact Assessment for that? Okay, it’s Mexico so it’s probably “Se va a estar bien, amigo” but …

  6. Tim:

    C’mon. What you perceive (sometimes as innumeracy, at others, exaggeration) has long, honored tradition behind it (called “poetic license”). Journalists can’t reasonably be expected to hew to the straight and narrow of
    rigid, factually-supported description (like technical writers) nor to (equally rigid) logical analysis (like economists, perhaps) now, can they? If one couldn’t tell a story that arouses ire, enmity, or wonder, where would be the joy in being a journalist?

    That said, I’m sympathetic to your annoyance–really I am. But, when I’d had my fill–32 years ago this month– there weren’t any such thing as blogs (and I probably wouldn’t have had the ambition to do one, anyway), so I just quit doing what annoyed me so much: reading newspapers and watching news TV. Closest I get to ’em now is this and a few other blogs (without these, I wouldn’t get any news a-tall). But, if those guys didn’t behave in a manner to get you annoyed a bit at their ignorance (and partisanship), you wouldn’t have a blog to stand on–you’d have to get all your jollies from being “king” of the scandium “hill.” In the final analysis, the stuff about innumeracy and exaggeration is really, really, “low-hanging fruit.” You might even make a new friend by offering Arnald a job doing those bits for you. He’d be good at it (and we could all admire his zeal and expertise–and say so, which would go a long way toward conserving the “cunts,” “pricks, ” and “ignorant assholes” for times where they’d count for more.
    And you’d have more time for the heavier lifting
    (and the scandium).

    No thanks necessary–it’s the least I could do in return for the daily entertainment.

  7. I never pay attention to the reported weights and worth of seized drugs – law enforcement here is notorious for inflating these numbers by including EVERYTHING as weight.

    That 15 tons at the very least includes the weight of the packing materials and the shipping pallets and was probably already cut once.

    I’ve seen ’em report the weight of pot plants, including the dirt clinging to the roots.

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