Crime does not pay, so the old saying goes, but take a look at the top ten crimes in the world today and the amounts involved and you have to admit why some decide it is far too lucrative to be bad. There are some illegal activities you will not find surprising, such as the drug trade, which takes top billing. There are also some that will surpirse you, such as illegal fishing which robs developing countries of much-needed revenue to develop their infrastructure, or the human trafficking problem which is equivalent to carting off the entire population of Utah.
There is no such thing as a victimless crime, even counterfeiting or the selling of illegal oil costs all of us something, even if it is simply our humanity.
10. Human Organ Trafficking
This unpalatable trade brings in around $1.2 billion per year. Primarily, poor people in undeveloped countries such as China, Peru, India, Turkey and Brazil are the victims of this trade sometimes referred to as “neo-cannibalism.” Organs are sold to the highest bidder from countries such as the US, Canada, Italy and Japan. People at the front of hospital waiting lists will never see these organs, and though the donors are not victims of unfortunate premature death, it is still dirty business. The donors sell their organs to support their families – they sell their internal organs for a fraction of what they’re sold for on the black market.
The illegal trade in gold is worth around $2.3 billion annually. The primary countries for illegal gold include Peru (40% of its gold production is illegal), Russia, Uzbekistan, Mali, Brazil, Argentina and Papua New Guinea. The gold ends up in richer countries worldwide. Illegal gold is gold which is mined and produced without license from the country’s authorities, typically depriving them of billions of dollars in revenues while the miners themselves are paid a miserly proportion of the real value of the gold produced.
8. Lumber Trade
Worth an estimated $4.9 billion – the illegal deforestation of highly prized timber takes place primarily in Central Africa, Southeast Asia and of course, South America. The lumber usually ends up in the United States or European Union after being sent to China. Illegal timber operations are usually able to carry out their illegal activities because local corruption provides fake work permits.
7. Art Theft
This illegal activity is worth around $6.3 billion each year. Crooks make billions out of stolen art and cultural artifacts, typically taken from countries such as China, Thailand, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the goods wind up in the hands of rich customers in Europe and the US. Illegal art is used as “currency” within the major drug cartels and those drug cartels are also behind most of the illegal trade in stolen art.
6. Illegal Wildlife Trading
This activity accounts for up to $10 billion per year, though some estimate it at around $25 billion. Animals are primarily sourced from Africa and Southeast Asia and sold to buyers in China (for traditional medicine) and Europe and the US. In the last 8 years, the tiger population in India has been cut by 50% as a result of wildlife poaching and trafficking.
5. Illicit Oil
The illegal oil trade is worth $10.8 billion each year. Illegal oil sales originate from oil-producing countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Venezuela, Mexico and Bulgaria. Who buys the illegal oil is hard to determine, but it is believed to be shipped to nearby countries. Around 183 million barrels of oil or 500,000 barrels a day are produced and sold illegally.
4. Illegal Fishing
The illegal fishing trade is worth up to $11.3 billion per year – primarily based in Southeast Asia and Africa, with customer countries including Japan, Europe, the US, South Korea and China. Indonesia alone is responsible for 1.6 million tons of illicit fish sold on the international markets. The trade deprives the developing countries whose fish stocks are raided of tax revenues in the billions, further hampering their efforts to develop economically for the benefit of their people.
3. Human Trafficking
The world trade in our fellow man is worth $31.6 billion. Most slaves are brought from undeveloped or corrupt countries such as the former Soviet Union, Brazil, Colombia, certain North African countries and India, Pakistan and China. Around 2.5 million people are victims – that’s about the population of the state of Utah.
This practice is worth a whopping $250 billion per year – primary the counterfeiting countries include China, Russia, Taiwan, India, Malaysia and the Philippines and most of the goods produced are sold back to China itself as well as the US and Europe. The US Dollar holds the status of international currency and this makes it a prime target for counterfeit operations and the US dollar is the most forged currency on earth.
Worth over $300 billion per year, this amount includes only drugs shipped across international borders and is primarily made up of cocaine and opiates, such as heroine. The majority of marijuana and amphetamines are domestic produced and sold locally. Afghanistan is responsible for 75% of opiate production with the remainder produced in Myanmar and Mexico. Since the invasion of Afghanistan by American-led coalition forces, production has doubled to 7,000 tons. Almost all cocaine is produced in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru and is worth $88 billion per year.