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.

Forest inspectors in the Arkhangelsk region of Russia conducted over 6,000 raids in 2012 and identified 359 illegal logging cases. The value of the illegal timber that was cut down was estimated to be worth $12 Million (410.5 Million Russian Rubles).

In order to avoid authorities, “black loggers” conduct their logging activities at night, where a single night of cutting down trees can yield up to 100,000 Rubles worth of timber.

The illegal loggers have been reported to offer bribes such as cases of vodka, and have also burned inspectors cars in order to intimidate them.

Source:  Lena Smirnova, “Profit Motive Helps and Hinders in Illegal Logging Battle,” Moscow Times, July 10, 2013.

In the first six months of 2013, criminal justice officials reported investigating 85 cases of diesel smuggling. The value of the diesel seized by officials was worth $101,000 (323,000 Malaysian Ringgit.)

In 2012, there were a total of 168 cases of diesel smuggling worth $470,000 (1.5 Million Ringgit.)

Diesel smuggling in Malaysia occurs due to the price differences between subsidized fuel available at petrol stations versus the price of diesel for industrial companies. At a petrol station, diesel is available for 1.80 Ringgits per liter, while companies pay 2.49 Ringgit per liter.

Source:  Sarah Rahim, “Diesel smuggling still on the rise,” New Straits Times, July 5, 2013.

According to wildlife protection officers in Scotland, there were 3 incidents of poisoning of wildlife birds in 2012. The number of incidents was down from the 10 cases of poisoning involving 16 birds in 2011.

Wildlife and environmental officials state that many birds of prey have been killed by illegal hunters.

(Prices of endangered species on the black market.)

Source:  “Crackdown on ‘barbaric’ killing of birds of prey,” Herald Scotland, July 2, 2013.

According to the African Union, countries in Africa has lost up to $200 Billion to illegal fishing activities over 5 decades, and up to $100 Billion to oil theft between 2003 to 2013.

The losses are due to increased pirate attacks in the region. The Nigerian Navy reported in 2013 that up to 10 to 15 pirate attacks are taking place each month in the Gulf of Guinea.

(More data about illegal catches worldwide.)

Source:  Augustine Ehikioya, “Nigeria, others lose $300bn to oil theft, illegal fishing,” Nation, June 24, 2013.

Security officials in Colombia report that illegal mining of gold has become a more profitable activity for FARC, ELN and other organized crime gangs in the country.

According to a police official, a kilogram of cocaine sold in the Colombia jungle is sold for $2,570 (5 Million Colombian Pesos).  Based on the current world market price for gold, a kilogram of gold could be sold for up to 19 times the price of cocaine.

In addition to the higher prices for gold, the armed rebels are able to sell more gold in a shorter period of time. To harvest cocaine in the jungles, a farmer would need expertise in harvesting cocaine and the process generally takes up to 6 months. In comparison, an illegal gold mining operation can extract up to 2 kilograms of gold each week.

In 2012, police shut down 330 illegal gold mines across the country. In the first half of 2013, police shut down 336 illegal mines.

Source:  Andrew Willis, “Gold Beats Cocaine as Colombia Rebel Money Maker: Police,” Bloomberg Businessweek, June 21, 2013.


Swedish Customs Officials state that up to 2,000 young puppies are illegally smuggled into Sweden each year. The dogs are bred Eastern European countries and then smuggled into Sweden in boxes and bags to avoid detection.

Animal welfare officials report that many of the puppies that are smuggled are chihuahuas, pugs and French bulldogs.

Source:  “Puppy smuggling shows no signs of abating,” The Local, June 18, 2013.

In the coastal city of Puerto Limón in Costa Rica, residents are becoming addicted to cocaine due to its location along the trafficking routes from South American to the United States. Security officials in the country state that many drug traffickers are paying local suppliers in cocaine, which is then consumed locally.

(See all wildlife trafficking statistics.)

With the rise in domestic users, many cocaine addicts are turning to turtle egg poaching in order to feed their habit. Poachers are  dig up several turtle nests at night which yields up to 90 turtle eggs. The poachers then sell these eggs directly to the cocaine dealer as payment for their drugs. The dealer turns around and sells a single turtle egg on the black market for $1. The eggs are popular with the local residents when combined with hot sauce and are sold in restaurants and street stalls.

(More prices of exotic wildlife on the black market.)

Source:  Scott Wallace, ” Costa Rican Murder Shines Light on Poaching, Drug Nexus,” National Geographic, June 17, 2013.

Between 2008 and 2012, wildlife protection officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks discovered 2,377 snares and traps that were laid by poachers in protected areas. The traps were designed to capture animals and wildlife of the illegal wildlife trade.

Source: P. Aruna, “Wildlife traders netting sales online,” The Star (Malaysia), June 11, 2013.

In the two years of 2011 to 2012, over 3.2 million tonnes of iron ore was illegally smuggled into China from Vietnam, according to the Vietnam Steel Association.

The difference in the reported export amount from Vietnam and the reported import amount from China was 1.55 million tonnes in 2011. The difference caused losses of $164 in Vietnam based upon the price of exports. The smuggled iron ore would have generated $84.7 Million in taxes and fees for the Vietnamese Government.

In 2012, the difference between exports and imports from the Vietnamese side was 1.7 million tonnes. The difference would have generated $84 Million in taxes and fees for the Vietnamese Government.

Source:  “Shocking illegal mineral exports to China,” Vietnam Net, June 8, 2013.


According to the Kyiv Motorist Club, one out of every three liters of fuel sold in Ukraine is substandard or counterfeit.

The motor club conducted tests at major gas stations and found that 30 percent of the gas did not meet Ukraine or Euro standards.

According to energy experts, the number of filling stations that are checked by Ukrainian officials between 2008 and 2013 fell by a rate of 2.8 times.

Source:  “Every third liter of petrol at Ukrainian filling stations is counterfeit, says study,” Interfax-Ukraine, June 5, 2013.