The annual turnover of transnational organized criminal activities such as drug trafficking, counterfeiting, illegal arms trade and the smuggling of immigrants is estimated at around $870 billion per year, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime said Monday, as part of a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the issue’s financial and social costs.
“Transnational organized 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,” said Yury Fedotov, the U.N. agency’s executive director, in a news release. “Crucial to our success is our ability to raise public awareness and generate understanding among key decision and policymakers.”
The $870 billion turnover from transnational organized crime is six times the amount of official development assistance, and is comparable to 1.5 per cent of the global domestic product, or 7 per cent of the world’s exports of merchandise, according to the Office for Drugs and Crime
Drug trafficking is the most lucrative form of business for criminals, with an estimated value of $320 billion a year. Human trafficking brings in about $32 billion annually, while some estimates place the global value of smuggling of migrants at $7 billion per year, according to the agency.
The environment is also exploited: trafficking in timber generates revenues of $3.5 billion a year in Southeast Asia alone, while elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts from Africa and Asia produces $75 million annually in criminal turnover, the Office for Drugs and Crime notes. At $250 billion a year, counterfeiting is also a high earner for organized crime groups.
In addition to the financial costs involved, the agency’s awareness-raising campaign seeks to highlight the human costs of these criminal activities to societies. Each year, countless lives are lost to drug-related health problems and violence and firearm deaths, among other causes, it said. In addition, some 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking, it added.
The campaign, which is being rolled-out through online channels and international broadcasters, consists of 30 and 60-second public service announcements in multiple languages, a set of posters, a series of fact sheets and various online banners that illustrate that despite being a global threat, the effects of transnational organized crime are felt locally. The campaign is also being promoted through various social media channels.