All threat intelligence on the black market is collected from open source documents that are publicly available. Sourcs include government security services, legal cases, research papers from criminal justice programs, user-submitted data and media reports. Source for all threat information is listed at the bottom of the post.
According to the Guatemalan Association of Fuel Retailers, between 300,000 and 350,000 gallons fuel is smuggled into Guatemala from Mexico each day. Based on the current price of $4.20 per gallon, the illegal fuel is worth $1.2 to $1.3 Million per day.
Security officials in Guatemala report that organized crime groups smuggle the fuel into the country through 8 to 9 points along the 500 mile border with Mexico. With the profits from the illegal fuel sales, the crime syndicates then launder the money into building new gas stations.
Source: Charles Parkinson, “Crime Groups Flooding Guatemala with Illegal Fuel from Mexico,” Insight Crime, December 11, 2013.
In an interview with the Guardian Newspaper, a prostitution customer in the red light discrit of Amsterdam stated that he pays $68 (€50) for a single session with prostitutes who advertise their services through windows.
The prostitution industry is legal in Amsterdam. According to legal regulations, building owners are able to charge $165 to $206 (€120 to €150) to the prostitutes for each shift that they work. Thus, a prostitute much service at least 3 customers in order to cover the cost of renting the window.
(More prices of prostitution rates around the world.)
Source: Sabine Cessou, “Prostitution in the Netherlands: ‘Paying for sex? It’s strictly business’,” Guardian, December 11, 2013.
Between January and the beginning of December 2013, security services in San Diego seized around 120,000 marijuana plants that were illegally grown in the county. The plants were seized from 113 different grow sites. The marijuana raids resulted in 89 arrests, with 58 grow sites located outdoors and 55 indoor growing operations.
Nearly 75 percent of the indoor marijuana growing sites involved hash-oil extraction, which has caused large explosions in several drug labs in Southern California. The process involves mixing marijuana with butane to extract oil from the weed that results in a form of liquid cannabis. The liquid offers users a stronger dose of marijuana and provides a high that is much stronger than a user would receive from smoking.
Source: “DEA: 120,000 marijuana plants seized from 113 grow sites in San Diego area since January 2013,” San Diego 6, December 9, 2013.
Source: Leticia Juarez, “Hash oil extraction is a growing, dangerous trend – officials,” ABC 7, October 21, 2013.
According to an inventory check of artwork at the State Museum of Art and Sculpture in Ankara, Turkey, there were over 300 art pieces that were discovered to have been stolen. Included in the missing artwork were items that were found to be replaced by counterfeits.
In a single art theft case in late 2013, security services in Turkey stated that up to $30 Million in artwork was taken from the state museum. Despite 30 major artworks being recovered from a operation in Istanbul, about 40 paintings are still missing from this one incident.
Source: AFP, “Turkey probes wave of museum art thefts,” Global Post, December 9, 2013.
The Digital Crimes Unit at Microsoft disrupted a botnet that took over 2 million PCs around the world.
The botnet called ZeroAccess would inject viruses onto the computer and hijack the results when the user would visit a search engine. Instead of sending the user to the page requested, the botnet would insert hyperlinks that the user would click on instead.
These links would generate ad revenues from major online advertising networks in a practice called “click fraud.” These clicks on online ads generated over $2.7 Million each month for the operator of the botnet.
It was previously reported that one in seven clicks on ads displayed online was due to click fraud.
(See more cyber threats and prices of stolen goods online.)
Source: Sean Gallagher, “Microsoft disrupts botnet that generated $2.7M per month for operators,” Ars Technica, December 6, 2013.
Security services in Italy estimate that the organized crime group ‘Ndragheta brings in up to $65 Billion (£40 Billion) a year in black market revenue.
One of the main revenue sources is in cocaine trafficking, where ‘Ndragheta controls up to 80 percent of the cocaine imported into Europe.
Another key areas of money is from “pizzo”, or the Mob Tax. Between 2008 and 2013, the European Union have granted $4.1 Billion (£2.5 Billion) in public works projects such as new roads to areas controlled by the “Ndraheta. Portions of these government money ends up being paid by construction firms to the syndicate.
Out of the total revenue that is collected, a third of the money is reinvested back into its criminal operations. The remaining money is either laundered into legitimate businesses, or is used to pay off corrupt police officers and politicians.
Source: Nigel Blundell, “The new godfathers: Deadlier and MORE secretive than the Sicilian mafia,” Mirror Online, December 8, 2013.
According to a survey conducted in France, one in three people in the country stated that they earned income in 2013 that was not taxed. In 2008, the figure was 13 percent.
Half of all people earning money as a babysitter did not declare their earnings in 2013. Half of teaching assistants also did not declare their earnings.
42 percent of domestic cleaners were paid under the table.
Of the over 1,000 people surveyed, 20 percent stated that they would pay in cash for services received.
The government agency that is responsible for collecting social security payments in France stated that the revenue coming in dropped by 8 percent in 2013. However, the number of people receiving benefits only dropped by 1 to 2 percent. Thus, experts believe that households in France are declaring less hours worked by babysitters and cleaners and are instead paying more in cash.
(Jobs and earnings from the illegal economy.)
Source: Anne Penketh, “Vive la black market! One in three French people say they have earned undeclared income this year,” Independent, December 8, 2013.
Security forces in Jordan seized 300 percent more weapons and firearms on its border with Syria in 2013 when compared to 2012.
900 weapons, 24 vehicles, and 6 million illegal drug pills were seized while attempting to be smuggled into Jordan.
Along with the black market items, nearly 1,600 people were caught attempting to illegally enter Jordan from Syria in 2013.
(See the prices of guns on the black market.)
Source: IANS, “Smuggling of weapons rises sharply at Jordan borders,” Yahoo News India, December 6, 2013.
In 2012, government security services in Italy seized 28,000 tons of counterfeit food labels or adulterated products that was falsely labeled during the year. The counterfeit foods seized were worth $684 Million (€500 Million).
47 percent of the counterfeit labels involved Italian wine products.
4.6 tons of fake foods involved canned tomatoes, which were falsely labeled as organic or being produced in Italy.
Source: “Food pirates peddling fake olive oil, Chinese tomato sauce,” Ansa, December 5, 2013.