November 3, 2009: A recent UN report shows that the drug trade in Afghanistan is flourishing. According to the UN, there are 15 million addicts, worldwide, who depend on the 3,500 tons of opium produced each year in Afghanistan. Much of the opium is now consumed locally. For export, you want to take 7.7 tons of opium (worth about $800,000), with two tons of acetic anhydride (costing about $4,000), to produce one ton of heroin (worth about $3.5 million). The acetic anhydride has to be imported, and it's bulky. But the heroin is much more compact. The UN estimates that all this dope generates over $60 billion in economic activity each year. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban and al Qaeda make over $100 million a year providing security for the production and smuggling of the drugs. About 40 percent of the exported opium and heroin leaves via Pakistan (opium for the local addicts, heroin for wealthier customers farther east), 30 percent through Iran (opium for the local addicts, heroin for wealthier customers farther west) and 25 percent through Central Asia (opium for the local addicts, heroin for wealthier customers farther to the northwest). Ultimately, about 15 percent of Afghan drugs (in the form of opium or heroin) ends up in Iran, six percent in Pakistan, seven percent in India, 19 percent in China, 15 percent in Russia, six percent in Africa and six percent in the Americas (mainly the U.S. and Canada.) Only about 20 percent of the stuff is intercepted by police. Europe (including Russia) account for a little over half the heroin consumption, while Iran is the words biggest consumer of opium (over 40 percent of the total).