Those prosecuting the war on drugs, especially its international angles, often remind people that the profits amount to blood money thanks to the murderous cartels that profit from it. Federal officials conducted raids in 29 states yesterday in pursuit of illegal trade in synthetic drugs, and claims that at least smoke shop supported terrorism of a much different and dangerous kind:

In a nationwide crackdown on synthetic drugs, federal agents conducted raids in 29 states Wednesday. Authorities suspect a link between the drugs and terror groups.

Though they are sold at retail shops and online, these drugs are very dangerous. In 2011, there were close to 29,000 emergency room visits related to synthetic drug products. Laced with unknown chemicals, the majority of these drugs are manufactured in China. …

In one smoke shop in Birmingham, Alabama, agents also discovered wire transfers totaling more than $38 million to Yemen, furthering a suspicion that drug profits are funding overseas terrorist organizations. This bust now will give federal agents a chance to follow the money trail.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said, “I don’t want to say 100 percent definitively that this is financing terror, but we have a pretty good idea of where this money is going. That should alarm people.”

One smoke shop based at what looks like a gasoline station sent wire transfers to Yemen totaling $38 million? And it took a DEA probe into synthetic drugs to discover it? I’d guess that this is more of a commentary on our pursuit of the war on terror than the war on drugs. How many other fronts in the US — perhaps with more legal cover businesses — are sending that kind of cash to Yemen, of all places?

There are plenty of good reasons to track the distribution of illegal substances from outside the US through channels here, including the ability to dismantle the violent cartels that produce them. Some of this loose cash may indeed be pocketed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates and allies, but perhaps we should be looking for those channels for their own purposes.