The global COVID-19 pandemic has tragically impacted the lives, health and wellbeing of many around the world. It has led to deep economic recessions, compounded business losses, increased unemployment and reduced consumer incomes. Often overlooked is the fact that the dire impacts of COVID are being worsened by illicitly traded goods such as fraudulent personal protective equipment (PPE). Transnational criminal organizations and global terror groups use illicit trade to facilitate crimes in local communities, disrupting civil society, and cultivating corruption. The pandemic is a new business opportunity to finance their nefarious activities.

Criminal Networks Quickly Adapt to Profit During the…

In the 1930s, one of the most wanted men for the US treasury agents was Al Capone. It was the time when the US was witnessing the Prohibition era. But this didn’t stop Al Capone from running his successful liquor business.

Knowing that he can’t carry out his business openly, he knew how to run it behind the curtains. In those days, households in the US didn’t have running water and therefore keeping a washing machine made no sense. Sensing this need, entrepreneurs started setting up commercial launderers. …

With millions of pages on the internet is surprising to learn that 90% of them are not indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing, etc. This means that only a tiny portion of the internet is accessible through search engines or standard means.

Ok, wait, what does that mean?

To better understand the different levels of the internet, let’s use the ocean analogy:

The surface web would be the top of the ocean which appears to spread for miles around, and which can be seen easily or “accessible”. …

The illegal wildlife trade is a problem that has not only put the wild animal’s habitat in danger, but has also supported the rapidly thriving black market. The high price attached to elephants and rhinos’ body parts is the reason why poachers are ruthlessly killing these iconic species. The body parts so obtained are being used to prepare traditional medicine or trinkets which are then sold in the black market.

In the same manner, cheetah and lions are poached for their bones. In Central and West Africa, Great Apes, including chimpanzees, are the victims of the barbaric poachers who hunt…

Free trade zones have a long and cherished role in world trade, dating back to at least early 1700s. They provide numerous benefits to business and countries. However, lightly regulated FTZ are also attractive to parties engaged in illegal and criminal activities, such as a trade in counterfeit and pirated products or smuggling and money laundering, as these zones offer a relatively safe environment with both good infrastructure and limited oversight.

Across the world, there are around 3,500 FTZs that generate over $500 billion in trade-related added value, besides employing around 66 million people. These places have attracted multinational companies…

Organized crime and illicit economies are increasingly prominent sources of political corruption, as criminal networks pour money into parties and forge alliances with officials and their intermediaries. Transnational organized crime generates an estimated $870 billion in annual revenue, according to a report published in 2016 by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. Transactional corruption of law enforcement and public officials diverts resources from the state, and increasingly, in countries with poor institutions, the receipt of a bribe is perceived as a right of office — while payment of a bribe is seen as a cost of doing business. …

The digital economy has played a significant role in the world’s economic growth. The shift from traditional markets to online marketplaces has allowed sellers to interact with a larger global audience.

The rise of the e-commerce industry, however, has its own share of problems which, if left unnoticed, may have devastating effects on the world’s economy. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and European Union Intellectual Property Office (OECD & EUIPO) estimates showed that an 80% global growth in counterfeiting between 2008 and 2013.

Unlike a traditional marketplace where buyers inspect products placed on a shelf, e-commerce websites work on…

There is no denying the fact that illicit trade is a worldwide problem. It poses a serious threat to legitimate businesses and hurts a brand’s image.

For years, researchers have been studying the supply side of the trade to combat the sale and distribution of counterfeit products. However, the other side of this illegal activity, consumers’ demand for fake products, remains overlooked. This is probably because of the inherent difficulty in changing consumer behaviors. As highlighted in previous posts, there is no silver bullet against illicit trade, however, more focus should be given to reduce the demand for counterfeit products.

Illicit trade is a complex problem and a menace to the world’s economic growth. It poses a serious threat to consumers’ health and the reputation of legitimate manufacturers while stunning a country’s economic growth.

The world’s population is growing, and the demand for novel, customizable products is increasing at a fast pace. This rapidly growing market provides space for the expansion of illicit financial flows.

The current wave of globalization has enabled all segments of society — suppliers, manufacturers, end-consumers — to enjoy the fruits of liberalization. It has, inadvertently, also allowed parties that are involved in the trade of…

Hernan Albamonte

Passionate about Latin American politics and int. geopolitics, with solid experience in anti-illicit trade strategies, public affairs and communications.

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