The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced this week that organized crime in the Asia-Pacific region is a US$90 billion a year business—twice the GDP of Myanmar.
In its first comprehensive study of transnational organized crime in East Asia and the Pacific, the UNODC said the criminal activity includes human trafficking, migrant smuggling, illicit drugs, environmental crimes such as smuggling wildlife and wood products, counterfeit goods, and fake medicines.
The report estimates that the top money-makers for crime groups in East Asia and the Pacific are: the illicit trade in counterfeit goods ($24.4 billion); illegal wood products ($17 billion); heroin ($16.3 billion); methamphetamines ($15 billion); fake medicines ($5 billion); and illegal “e-waste” ($3.75 billion).
Drug trafficking accounts for an estimated one-third of the value of transnational organized crime, according to this report. The findings show that an estimated 65 metric tons of heroin worth $16.3 billion flowed within the region in 2011, of which two-thirds were produced in Myanmar’s Shan State. In addition, a significant proportion of the $15 billion worth of methamphetamine within the region is also manufactured in eastern and northeastern Myanmar, although the report said there are notable amounts entering from West Africa and the Middle East.
UNODC also noted that between one-third to 90 percent of all anti-malarial drugs tested in Southeast Asia are fraudulent, a criminal activity which can have serious global health implications.
“These transnational criminal activities are a global concern now,” said Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. “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.”
To read full UNODC report, click here
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