New UNODC campaign highlights transnational organized crime as a US$870 billion a year business

Photo: UNODC16 July 2012 - UNODC today launched a new global awareness-raising campaign emphasizing the size and cost of transnational organized crime. Profiling this multibillion-dollar-a-year threat to peace, human security and prosperity, the campaign illustrates the key financial and social costs of this international problem through a new public service announcement video and dedicated fact sheets for journalists.

With a turnover estimated to be around US$ 870 billion a year, organized criminal networks profit from the sale of illegal goods wherever there is a demand. These immense illicit funds are worth more than six 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.

"Transnational organized crime reaches into every region and every country across the world. Stopping this transnational threat represents one of the international community's greatest global challenges", said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov. "Crucial to our success is our ability to raise public awareness and generate understanding among key decision makers and policymakers. I hope that the media will use UNODC's campaign to highlight exactly how criminals undermine societies and cause suffering and pain to individuals and communities," he added.

Available at, the campaign is being rolled out through online channels and international broadcasters with the aim of raising awareness of the economic costs and human impact of this threat. By dealing with issues such as human trafficking, the smuggling of migrants, counterfeiting, illicit drugs, environmental crime and illegal arms, it offers an insight into today's core criminal areas.

With an estimated value of US$320 billion a year, drug trafficking is the most lucrative form of business for criminals. At US$250 billion a year, counterfeiting is also a very high earner for organized criminal groups. Human trafficking brings in about US$32 billion annually, while some estimates place the global value of smuggling of migrants at US$7 billion per year. The environment is also exploited: trafficking in timber generates revenues of US$3.5 billion a year in South-East Asia alone, while elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts from Africa and Asia produce US$75 million annually in criminal turnover.

The human cost associated with transnational organized crime is also a major concern, with countless lives lost each year. Drug-related health problems and violence, deaths caused by firearms, and the unscrupulous methods and motives of human traffickers and migrant smugglers are all part of this. Every year, millions of victims are affected as a result of the activities of organized criminal groups.

The UNODC-led campaign illustrates that, despite being a global threat, the effects of transnational organized crime are felt locally. Criminal groups can destabilize countries and entire regions, undermining development assistance in those areas and increasing domestic corruption, extortion, racketeering and violence.

The multi-language campaign consists of a 30- and 60-second public service announcement, a set of posters, a series of fact sheets and various online banners. All materials are available through the campaign website :

Follow the campaign on Twitter (@unodc; #TOC), Facebook (; Google+ (


Related Information:

Campaign website: Transnational Organized Crime

UNODC and Organized Crime