1. Environmental Threats

  1. Illegal Fishing
  2. Illegal Logging$30 Billion
  3. Metals and Minerals Smuggling$2.3 Billion
  4. Oil Theft$37.23 Billion
  5. Waste Dumping$11 Billion
  6. Wildlife Trafficking$32 Billion

Environmental Threats

Statistics and information about criminal threats to the environment. Illegal logging, illegal fishing, smuggling and other environmental destruction committed by organized crime is collected from wildlife charities and public information sources.

Statistics released by the United Nation’s’ Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) showed that 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2014.

The number of rhinos killed for their rhino horn was a record high.

1,004 rhinos were poached and killed in South Africa in 2013.

668 were killed in 2012.

341 were killed in 2011.

333 were killed in 2010.

122 were killed in 2009.

The rise in poaching of rhinos is due to the high price of rhino horn on the black market. A kilogram of rhino horn is sold for up to $65,000.

(Additional prices of exotic animals and endangered species.)

Source:  Live Science, “Amid Record-Breaking Poaching, Wildlife Experts Seek to Smash a Black Market,” Yahoo News, March 5, 2015.


According to reports from wildlife organization Save the Elephants, the price for raw ivory in China was $2,100 per kilogram.

Back in 2010, the price of the ivory was $750 per kilo.

Between 2010 and 2012, up to 33,000 elephants were poached and killed on average each year.

(See the price of elephants for sale on the global black market here.)

Source: AFP, “Smuggled elephant ivory price triples,” Yahoo News, July 3, 2014.

A study published in Nature reported that the deforestation rate in Indonesia is the highest in the world. Between 2000 and 2012, Indonesia lost 6.02 million hectares of forest due to logging and other clearing activities. According to the researchers from the University of Maryland, up to 40 percent of the deforestation in Indonesia was due to illegal logging.

Environmental officials and wildlife protection charities are concerned about the loss of forests in Indonesia. The country’s forests are home to 10 percent of the world’s plants, 12 percent of its mammals, 16 percent of its reptiles and 17 percent of its bird species.


According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol, black market smuggling of charcoal across Africa causes losses up to $9 Billion a year across the continent, with governments losing at least $1.9 Billion in tax revenue. The value of the illegal charcoal trade in Africa is reportedly three times the amount of the continent’s illegal drug trade.

Security and intelligence agencies believe that terrorist groups, militias and organized crime syndicates earn up to $289 Million from the illegal charcoal sale. By comparison, the groups make about $12 Million a year from black market ivory sales.

Al-Shabaab, a militant group based in Somalia, is believed to earn between $38 Million to $68 Million  from black market charcoal sales and taxation per year.

Source: Hannah McNeish, “$213bn illegal wildlife and charcoal trade ‘funding global terror groups’,” Guardian, June 24, 2014.

Security and intelligence officials in Russia estimate that over $700 Million worth of crab is illegally fished and poached from its waters each year. Most of the boats that poach crab from Russian waters are registered in Cambodia or Sierra Leone with its crew being from Russia. Most of the illegally caught crab is transported to Japan and South Korea.

Fishermen in Alaska also report losing sales due to illegal fishing of crab. The trade group in the state reports that at least $560 Million was lost over the past decade due to illegal crab poachers undercutting their prices.

Source: Stephanie May Joyce, “Searching for the Russian Crab Mafia,” Bloomberg Businessweek, June 19, 2014.


Based on statistics released by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), there were at least 20,000 elephants killed world wide by poachers in 2013 for their ivory tusks. The number of elephants killed was slightly down from the 22,000 elephants killed in 2012 and the 25,000 poached in 2011.

At the end of 2013, there were an estimated 500,000 African elephants living in the world. 95 percent of the elephant population has been killed during the last 100 years.

The ivory is collected from elephants in Africa and sold in markets in Asia. According to Cites, there are 8 countries that are heavily involved in either buying, selling or providing illicit ivory. The countries are Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in Africa, and China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia.

The three African countries accounted for 80 percent of the major seizures in Africa in 2013.

Security forces stated that many of the gangs involved in wildlife trafficking are now using existing drug trafficking routes to smuggle the ivory.

(See more elephant poaching statistics here.)

Source:  Damian Carrington, “Fewer elephants killed in 2013, figures show,” Guardian, June 13, 2014.

Environmental authorities seized at least 186 tonnes of illegally fished bluefin tuna from the Atlantic in Italy, Spain and Tunisia in 2013, according to statistics released by the Pew Charitable Trust and MedReAct.org. Fishing boats from Italy accounted for 130 tonnes of the illegally fished tuna.

In an example of the type of smuggling that takes place, security forces in Italy broke up a ring that was smuggling nearly 38 tonnes of tuna that was worth $402,000 (€300,000).

The European Union allows 7,939 tonnes of Atlantic bluefin tuna to be caught each year.

(More illegal fishing statistics.)

Source:  Gwynn Guilford, “200 tons of illegally caught Atlantic bluefin tuna show how we’re driving these fish to extinction,” Quartz, May 30, 2014.

Security agencies in China confiscated 976,500 metric tons of illegal waste materials that was in the process of being smuggled, according to the Customs Department. The amount of waste material seized in 2013 was 150 percent higher than in 2012.

The illegal waste was intercepted over the course of 221 cases, a threefold increase from the number of cases in 2012.

The solid waste materials that were caught included both recyclable and non-recyclable materials, such as discarded steel and iron, coal slag, chemicals and electronic waste, building materials and medical waste.

Security officials stated that most of the waste was being imported into China from foreign countries such as the United States, Europe and Japan. The waste is smuggled into China through large shipping containers, which are not properly declared on customs forms.

Source:  Zhang Yan, “Solid waste smuggling sees threefold rise,” China Daily, May 27, 2014.

According to an investigation conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), there are around 2,500 illegal mining pits located across Ukraine. Most of the illegal “kopanki” pits are located in the Donbas region near Donetsk. Experts in the mining industry estimate that tens of thousands of illegal miners are working in these pits.

The Trade Union of the Coal Miners in Ukraine estimate that between 6 to 7 million tons of coal is illegally extracted from these mines each year. With the average price of a ton of coal being $100, the illegal coal mined from Ukraine could be worth up to $700 Million per year.

7 million tons of coal represents 11 percent of the country’s total coal output.

Source:  Denys Kanzansky and Serhly Harmash, “Ukraine’s Illegal coal mines: dirty, dangerous, deadly,” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, May 26, 2014.

Fuel smugglers in Indonesia are using motorcycles to smuggled subsidized fuel into East Timor, which does not receive government subsidies for its gasoline purchases.

According to a report in the Jakarta Globe, smugglers quickly drive up to gas stations located in the Belu district of Timor. The smugglers cut in front of the line and fill up modified tanks on their bikes that are able to hold more fuel than regular motorcycle tanks. Once filled, they drive over the border into East Timor to sell the fuel on the black market. Once the fuel is off-loaded, the smugglers return to the gas station in Belu and repeat the process. Media reports state that each time the smuggler cuts in line and fills up the bike tank, the smugglers passes along a small payment to the gas attendants.

A barrel of fuel costs around $78 (900,000 Indonesian Rupiah) in Indonesia with the fuel subsidy. In East Timor, the same barrel of fuel costs about $156 (1.8 Million Rupiah).

The smuggling of fuel has impacted Indonesia’s budget. The original budget estimate for the fuel subsidy program was set at 210 Trillion Rupiah. Due to the purchases of smugglers, the fuel subsidy program cost 285 Trillion Rupiah, or $25 Billion.

In addition to the fuel smuggling, a black market in stolen cars is also active on the border with East Timor. A person with experience in the trade told the Jakarta Globe that a stolen 2013 Toyota Avanza Veloz can be sold for $6,525 (75 Million Rupiah) on the border.

(See more black market prices here.)

Source:  Josua Grantan, “Timor Fuel Smugglers Deal in Liquid Money,” Jakarat Globe, May 21, 2014.