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East Asia Pacific organized crime: $USD 90bn annually

East Asia Pacific transnational organized crime flows generate USD 90 billion annually, UNODC says

Sydney, 16 April 2013 – Illicit markets in East Asia and the Pacific earn organized criminal groups nearly USD 90 billion a year – an amount roughly equal to twice the GDP of Myanmar, according to a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report released today.

The UNODC report, Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment, is the first comprehensive study of transnational organized crime threats in East Asia and the Pacific. It details the criminal flows involved and provides estimates of annual revenues generated for criminal groups by activities related to human trafficking and migrant smuggling, illicit drugs (heroin and methamphetamine), environmental crime (wildlife, wood products, e-waste and ozone-depleting substances), and counterfeit consumer goods and fake medicines.

“This report outlines the mechanics of illicit trade: The how, where, when, who and why of selected contraband markets affecting this region,” said Mr. Sandeep Chawla, UNODC Deputy Executive Director, at the report’s launch today in Sydney.

“It looks at how criminal enterprises have developed alongside legitimate commerce and taken advantage of distribution and logistics chains. It offers estimates of values to prompt public debate and makes recommendations to address these problems,” said Mr. Chawla.

The report estimates that the top money-makers for crime groups in East Asia and the Pacific are: the illicit trade in counterfeit goods (USD 24.4 billion), illegal wood products (USD 17 billion), heroin (USD 16.3 billion), methamphetamines (USD 15 billion), fake meds (USD 5 billion) and illegal e-waste (USD 3.75 billion).

Many of the organized criminal activities outlined in the Report can have serious global health implications.

“Between one-third to 90% of anti-malarial drugs tested in Southeast Asia are fraudulent: They do not contain what they say they do. Sub-standard drugs have two serious public health consequences: One: people get sicker or die; Two: drug-resistant strains can develop – as we now see with anti-malarials – and cause a global health threat,” said Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“These transnational criminal activities are a global concern now. Illicit profits from crimes in East Asia and the Pacific can destabilize societies around the globe. Dollars from illicit activities in East Asia can buy property and companies and corrupt anywhere. We need to talk about this, and organize a coordinated response now. It takes a network to defeat a network,” said Mr. Jeremy Douglas.

The UNODC report, Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment, is funded in part by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.

Transnational crime flows East Asia and the Pacific discussed in this Report

To download a copy of the Report:


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