Supply and demand are what underpin any business decisions made by bosses keen on making serious mountains of cash.
And the drugs trade is no different.
In the world’s wealthiest countries revellers are hungry to add something extra to their nights out and have turned to serious Class A drugs in order to achieve the highs they crave – and naturally, there are those ready to supply.
For decades, some of the world’s most violent and dangerous gangsters and narcoterrorists have become so insanely rich that their incomes – in some cases – worth huge chunks of actual countries’ GDPs.
These are the wealthiest drug lords of all time:
Khun Sa – Estimated worth: £4.5bn
Burmese drug lord Khun Sa – known as the Opium King – led a massive drug smuggling network between Thailand, Burma and Laos where he dominated the illegal trade between 1976 and 1996.
At his height, Khun Sa managed to get the support of both Thailand and Burma’s governments and led a warlord army in the region.
In exchange for fighting rebels in the region, Burma even granted him use of their land and roads to transport heroin.
He died aged 73 in 2007.
Ochoa Vasquez brothers – Estimated worth: £5.5bn
As founding members of the infamous Colombian Medellin Cartel back in the 1970s, the Ochoa brothers managed to get incredibly wealthy due to their connections to Pablo Escobar’s criminal network.
Juan, Jorge and Fabio all managed to land on the Forbes Magazine list of global billionaires in 1987 and managed to stay on it until 1992.
In 1992, the brothers turned themselves in to authorities in Colombia in hope of avoiding an all-out war and served short sentences in the country before they were either arrested again or went on the run.
Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar – Estimated worth: £6.02bn
The son of an Indian police officer, Dawood Kaskar would go on to amass great amounts of wealth after delving into organised crime.
Starting his criminal gang D-Company in the 1970s, he has become one of the most-wanted men on the planet over charges of terrorism, murder, extortion, drug trafficking and targeted killings.
His criminal empire now spreads from Asia into Europe and Africa with about 40% of its earnings coming from India. His smuggling routes, which pump narcotics into Europe, are brought in large-scale shipments into the UK.
The FBI placed him at number 3 of its most-wanted list in 2011.
Alfredo Beltran Leyva – Estimated worth: £7.6bn
Alfredo Leyva make his monstrous fortune smuggling multi-tonne cocaine shipments before he was arrested in 2008.
The Mexican had been the leader of the Beltran-Leyva Cartel, where cocaine and methamphetamine was transported from Mexico and South America to the United States.
At his height, Leyva was one of the most-wanted drug lords in the world.
Amanda Carrillo Fuentes – Estimated worth: £18bn
Mexican criminal mastermind Amando Carrilo Fuentes became infamous for using jets to transport cocaine into the US.
After taking control of the Juarez Cartel after he assassinated boss Rafael Aguilar Guajardo, Fuentes managed to build a £18billion empire.
But, being the leader of such a violent cartel led authorities to chase after Fuentes.
In a last-ditch attempt to throw special forces off the scent, Fuentes underwent extensive plastic surgery to alter his appearance and to suck out fat from his stomach.
But, the operation was botched and Fuentes died from complications back in 1997.
The bodies of the two physicians who performed Carillo’s surgery were killed and encased in concrete inside steel drums. Their bodies showed signs of torture.
Christopher Coke – Estimated worth: £22bn
Jamaican drug lord Christopher Coke was the leader of the Shower Posse – a gang started by his dad Lester, which smuggled cannabis into the US.
Due to his dad’s wealth, Coke and his siblings attended private school and were raised in an enormously privileged environment.
After his dad died in 1992, Coke – then 22 – took over the gang and rapidly managed to enhance his status among Jamaica’s poor by donating to the impoverished people of Tivoli Gardens in the country’s capital, Jamaica.
But, Coke was using the cash generated from cannabis and cocaine smuggling to expand his empire that now has branched into Canada and New York.
He was captured in 2010 and pleaded guilty one year later. Coke is currently serving a 23-year sentence, although he is set for release in 2030.
Pablo Escobar – Estimated worth: £22bn
Come on, I know you’re not surprised. The legendary drug lord is believed to have been one of, if not the richest dealers in human history.
At the height of his power, the Colombian criminal mastermind was taking an estimated £317million every week thanks to being able to flood cocaine into the lucrative US market.
It is estimated that Escobar made anywhere between £6.8billion and £22billion over his multi-decade campaign of terror.
The narcoterrorist’s reign of terror came to an end when he was shot dead during a shootout in December 1993.
Naturally, Escobar’s death only left a vacuum that was briefly filled by the rival Cali Cartel until its leaders were captured or killed.
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