Drug trade could increase availability of bioweapons

Drug cartels, as a result of the increase in the narcotics trade, have been increasingly able to acquire biological and chemical weapons and radioactive material for the purpose of WMD creation, the U.S. State Department has warned.

"The sums of money involved are growing in extraordinary amounts, and that raises the possibility, because of the sums and the areas in which these groups have begun to operate, for that opportunity to be exploited," David Johnson, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, told The Jerusalem Post.

"Some of these criminal syndicates have the organizational and financial wherewithal that could potentially allow them to acquire and sell radioactive material, biological and chemical weapons, and technologies used for weapons of mass destruction."

Johnson told listeners at the Washington Institute of Near East Affairs that the unparalleled growth in drug profits is attributable to increasing demand and supply in the worldwide market.

Johnson added, however, that most of the major terror organizations in the Middle East are funded from state sponsors rather than from drugs or other criminal activities.

"If you're looking at the areas around Israel, you're talking about state sponsors driving the organizations and this being more opportunistic rather than a direct impact on what they're doing," Johnson said. "It's more the case of criminal groups producing products and providing services that are quite useful to these groups that are engaged in even more nefarious activities."