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average prices that cocaine in the us at the retail and distributor level over the previous 30 years. US government data

"In the same means that a monopolist can dictate prices to that is consumers, who have actually no one rather to buy from, a monopsonist have the right to dictate price to that suppliers, who have actually no one else to sell to," Wainwright writes.

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Walmart, one of the world"s biggest retailers, and also the drug cartels that control the world"s cocaine industry are vastly different enterprises — most significantly in the Walmart is a legal business operating in accordance through national and local regulations, while cartels space organized-crime groups operating exterior the law.

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But they are both businesses, with comparable dynamics.

Just as Walmart"s suppliers have the right to strain under the low prices the the retailer deserve to dictate, coca farmers are caught in between pressure on their plants from authorities and also prices dictated by traffickers.

"And for this reason the effect of all these disruptions of supply" indigenous eradication efforts, Wainwright said, "are to really squeeze the farmers. It"s not hitting the cartels. It"s no hitting the consumer in the claims or in Europe. The civilization that it"s yes, really damaging space the farmer who thrive this stuff."

"The actual drugs millionaires are right right here in the united States"

Coca walk through several stages to end up being cocaine, with value added at every step.

To develop a kilogram (2.2 pounds) that pure cocaine requires around a ton of new coca leaf, Wainwright told service Insider. "It then gets dried out, it weighs a little bit less, yet that ton of leaf to begin with expenses only about $400 or $500 in Colombia," that said.

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Farmers who process that coca leaf into a basic paste and then sell that to traffickers can get around $900 a kilo, an associated Press report earlier this year found.

Once that dough is turned right into cocaine and also shipped north, it can fetch between $10,000 and also $20,000a kilo, relying on where the arrives.


In this January 7, 2016, photo, coca paste prepared for sale sit in the kitchen the a home in the mountain an ar of Antioquia, Colombia. Later, at some suggest along the way, the paste is made into cocaine the is ultimately sold ~ above the highways of such locations as new York and also Amsterdam for plenty of thousands the dollars. AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

"Then, by the time it makes it to dealers, it"s precious maybe an ext like $70,000, $80,000, and by the time they reduced it into grams, periodically dilute it, a pure kilo is worth tantamount of around $150,000, so the markup is gigantic," Wainwright said.

The really price payment by the street-level customer have the right to vary based upon location, purity, and also other factors. But overall, "You"re going from thousands of dollars to numerous thousands of dollars. That"s why the profits connected in this company are simply so sky-high," that added.

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Read more: Colombia is trying come root the end the cocaine trade, yet farmers room relying ~ above it together an "insurance policy"

According to Wainwright, the press eradication efforts put on cocaine"s resource have little impact top top the consumer. "Imagine that with eradicating coca tree in Colombia, you controlled to dual the price coca sheet from, say, $400 come $800," he said. If all that extra cost lands on the us buyer, the price of the pure kilo is just $150,400.

"You"ve boosted the price of the raw product by 100%, and you"ve only enhanced the price of last product by much less than 1%," Wainwright said. "The business economics of the battle on drug simply don"t include up."