Illegal trade worth €870bn
ORGANISED INTERNATIONAL crime is worth up to $870 billion a year, the United Nations has estimated at the launch of a campaign against illegal trade in everything from people to guns, drugs and endangered species.
The turnover of transnational criminal networks is worth more than six times the global aid budget, or about 7 per cent of the world’s legal exports, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said.
There is also a high cost in human lives and economic stability with crime groups bringing “increasing domestic corruption, extortion, racketeering and violence”.
“Criminal groups traffic women for sexual exploitation and children for purposes of forced begging, burglary and pickpocketing.
“Fraudulent medicines and food products enter the licit market and not only defraud the public but can put their lives and health at risk,” the UN said at the launch of the campaign that aims to underline that “there is always a victim”.
By far the most lucrative trade, well over a third of the total, is in narcotics, which has an annual value the UN estimates at $320 billion. Second is the trade in counterfeit goods, which generates around $250 billion.
Human trafficking generates $32 billion a year, with an estimated 2.4 million victims affected at any one time.
“Transnational organised crime reaches into every region, and every country across the world. Stopping this transnational threat represents one of the international community’s greatest global challenges”, the UN drugs and crime office’s executive director, Yury Fedotov, said.
“Better intelligence methods need to be developed through the training of more specialised law enforcement units, which should be equipped with state-of-the-art technology,” the UN said, suggesting poor nations needed more help.
“Organised crime adds to an increase in public spending for security and policing and undermines the very human rights standards that many countries strive to preserve? Developing countries need assistance in building their capacity to counter these threats.”
In Afghanistan, a desperately impoverished country on the frontline of the narcotics trade, criminal networks feed both government corruption and a tenacious insurgency.
The country produces about 90 per cent of the world’s opiates. High value, low volume and easy to store for years if needed, it is a hard crop to convince farmers to replace in poor and volatile areas. – (Guardian service)