The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] reported Monday that turnover from transnational organized criminal networks is estimated to be around $870 billion a year [press release]. With the statement, the UNODC launched its global awareness-raising campaign [official website] with the purpose of informing the public about the economic costs and human impact associated with the threat transnational organized criminal networks are creating. The UN-backed body estimated that the illegal profits gained by the organizations represent "more than 6 times the amount of official development assistance, and are comparable to 1.5 per cent of global GDP, or 7 per cent of the world's exports of merchandise." UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov [official profile] said that the threat does not stop at the international level but also has local impacts undermining development assistance while increasing corruption, extortion and violence. The most lucrative area for organized criminal groups is drug trafficking which provides them with an estimated annual profit of $320 billion while counterfeiting brings them $250 billion in profits. The business of human trafficking has a value of $32 billion a year affecting 2.4 million victims. Fedotov stated that stopping such threat is one of the major challenges the international community currently faces.
Transnational organized crime has been a problem affecting countries around the world. In February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called [JURIST report] for an increase in efforts to address transnational organized crime, drug trafficking and piracy in West Africa. Ban expressed his concern to the UN Security Council [official website] amid reports stating that terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda [JURIST news archive], formed alliances with drug traffickers. In May of last year, the Bulgarian government had passed [JURIST report] a bill allowing the Commission for Establishing of Property Acquired from Criminal Activity [official website] to use "civil confiscation" of assets before conviction in an attempt to target organized crime. Bulgaria had been urged [JURIST report] by the European Commission (EC) [official website] to increase its effort to deal with the problem of corruption and organized crime. In June 2010, the UNODC released a report [JURIST report] revealing the globalization of organized crime and its threat to international security. According to the report, Afghanistan and Colombia supply the majority of the world's illegal drugs but most of the profits are found in places where the drugs are actually sold. During the same month, the US State Department (DOS) [official website] stated [JURIST report] that US complies with international regulations but still faces serious problem with human trafficking.