Transnational Organized Crime: Let's Put Them out of Business

Transnational organized crime encompasses virtually all serious profit-motivated criminal actions of an international nature where more than one country is involved. There are many activities that can be characterized as transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, smuggling of migrants, human trafficking, money-laundering, trafficking in firearms, counterfeit goods, wildlife and cultural property, and even some aspects of cybercrime. It threatens peace and human security, leads to human rights being violated and undermines the economic, social, cultural, political and civil development of societies around the world. The vast sums of money involved can compromise legitimate economies and have a direct impact on governance, such as through corruption and the "buying" of elections. Every year, countless lives are lost as a result of organized crime. Drug-related health problems and violence, firearm deaths and the unscrupulous methods and motives of human traffickers and migrant smugglers are all part of this. Millions of victims are affected each year as a result of the activities of organized crime groups, with human trafficking victims alone numbering 2.4 million.

While transnational organized crime is a global threat, its effects are felt locally. When organized crime takes root it can destabilize countries and entire regions, thereby undermining development assistance in those areas. Organized crime groups can also work with local criminals, leading to an increase in corruption, extortion, racketeering and violence, as well as a range of other more sophisticated crimes at the local level. Violent gangs can also turn inner cities into dangerous areas and put citizens' lives at risk.

Combating a global phenomenon such as transnational organized crime requires partnerships at all levels. Governments, businesses, civil society, international organizations and people in all corners of the world have a part to play.

UNODC has recently launched a campaign showing how transnational organized crime destabilizes countries and entire regions, undermines development assistance and increases domestic corruption, extortion, racketeering and violence. The campaign, which aims to bring attention to the various aspects of organized crime, can be seen on and includes a new awareness-raising video which is being rolled out online ( as well as through international broadcasters. This illustrates the key financial and social costs behind organized crime and reveals the dangers of counterfeit goods to health and safety.