News / Asia

UN: Asia's Transnational Criminal Profits Dwarf GDP

Government worker slashes counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag during ceremonial destruction of fakes goods seized in raids, Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2011.
Government worker slashes counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag during ceremonial destruction of fakes goods seized in raids, Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2011.
Daniel Schearf
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime says criminal groups in East Asia and the Pacific are earning $90 billion annually, most of it from narcotics, fake goods, illegal wood and wildlife, and smuggling people.
 
According to the UNODC study released Tuesday, “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific, a Threat Assessment," well-organized crime syndicates, reaching suppliers in Africa and markets across Asia, Europe and North America, boast criminal earnings that dwarf some economies in the region.
 
"It accounts for approximately 90 billion U.S. dollars a year, which, just to put it in perspective, represents two times the size of the GDP of Myanmar, eight times the GDP of Cambodia, and 13 times the GDP of Lao P.D.R.," said Giovanni Broussard, a Bangkok-based UNODC program officer who drafted chapters of the report.
 
The study says combined sales of heroin and methamphetamines account for more than a third of criminal proceeds in the region, netting roughly $16.3 billion and $15 billion respectively.
 
Most of the heroin is produced in Burma and sold to buyers in China and Southeast Asia. Both Burma and China are also major manufacturers and exporters of methamphetamines.
 
Broussard says efforts to crack down on Afghanistan's opium production for heroin led farmers in Burma to increase production.
 
"That's why we are strongly encouraging countries to work together when devising these strategies ... that repression of one [criminal] activity in one country might have detrimental effect on the neighboring country.
 
Throughout the report, China emerges as one of the most significant players in transnational crime. Counterfeit goods made in China and sold to Europe and the United States make up the single largest illegal industry, amounting to more than $24 billion annually.
 
Fake medicines, mainly from China and India, are found throughout Southeast Asia and as far as Africa, risking dangerous health consequences. The UNODC cites forensic studies showing an average of 47 percent of anti-malarial medicines tested in Southeast Asia were found to be fraudulent.
 
Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.
x
Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.
Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur December 11, 2012.
China is also the largest consumer of illegal and endangered wildlife, much of it poached from Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma, Laos and Cambodia.
 
Asia's growing demand for traditional medicine and trinkets is also driving poaching of rhinos and elephants in Africa.
 
Broussard says there is also evidence that African poachers are looking for replacements of Southeast Asian wildlife nearing extinction.
 
"We have seen through 2012 more and more episodes of seizures of the African version of … the scaly anteaters, being poached in Africa and seized in maybe one of the transit countries en route to China, [such as] Vietnam," he said.
 
The study estimates more than 30 percent of the region's wood products, a $17 billion industry, were illegally sourced in 2010 and that China and Indonesia are the largest exporters, annually selling an estimated $7 billion and $6 billion respectively.
 
Broussard says efforts to prevent organized crime will fail without China's help and cooperation.
 
"China is certainly a key player," he said. "The size of the country and the growth of its economy makes it certainly a key player in this region. No effective response can be devised in Southeast Asia and the Pacific without the involvement of China."
 
The UNODC says although human trafficking and migrant smuggling are relatively small in dollar terms, about $2 billion annually, damage done to victims is immeasurable.
 
The study notes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is set to establish an economic community by 2015 to facilitate the free flow of labor, goods and investment, but it warns the economic community will also make possible the increased mobility of illegal goods.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid