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.

90 percent of the population of Bangladesh are Muslims, and up to 3 million cows are needed to meet the consumption levels of the country. In order to meet the demand, Bangladeshi slaughterhouses need to import cows from other sources.

However, in neighboring India, cows are considered sacred in their Hindu practices. Many Indian states ban the slaughter of cows.

Thus, an illegal black market has emerged where over 2 million cows are smuggled from India into Bangladesh The value of the smuggled cows are worth $920 Million (50 Billion Rupees).

Source:  Shaikh Azizur Rahman, “Cow smuggling … it’s how Bangladesh gets its beef,” Christian Science Monitor, January 26, 2013.

A gold smuggler in India can make $33.50 (1,800 Rupee) for every 10 grams of gold that is smuggled into the country, according to jewelers in the country.

The government of India has raised the duty on gold, thus increasing the black market smuggling of gold to avoid duty payments.

(More income and profits from illegal jobs.)

Source:  Aparna Ramalingam, “Import duty hike to up gold smuggling,” Times of India, January 22, 2013.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that up to 100,000 green turtles are killed and smuggled each year in the waters of Indonesia and Australia.

The turtles are considered a delicacy among the people of Bali.

In 2012, wildlife protection officials broke up 80 smuggling attempts where green turtles were being illegally brought into the island.

Back in the late 1970s, up to 30,000 green turtles were being killed and eaten in Bali.

(More illegal wildlife trade statistics.)

Source:  Luh De Suriyani, “Green turtle smuggling continues,” Jakarta Post, Bali Daily, January 21, 2013.

Indonesian oil company Pertamina reported that it lost up to $52 Million (500 Billion Indonesian Rupiah) to oil theft and oil smuggling in 2012. Company officials stated up between 800 to 1,100 barrels of oil was stolen from its pipeline in Sumatra each day. The amount lost to smugglers accounted for 5 percent of the energy companies daily production in the area.

In the first week of January 2013, the company reported that up to 1,500 barrels of oil was being stolen from its pipelines each day, accounting for 6.5 percent of its total output.

The company reported that it will begin the process of moving its pipelines underground to prevent oil thieves from stealing its oil.

Source:  “Slippery Oil Thieves Cost Pertamina Up to Rp 500b in 2012,” Jakarta Globe, January 8, 2013.

The New York Times reported on the various tactics that elephant ivory poachers are deploying against park rangers in Central Africa.

Experts are reporting that the poachers are using former soldiers who are employing military tactics to kill rangers that come across their activities. In Kenya, six rangers were killed during 2012. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 5 people were killed during the summer of 2012 when poachers raided a wildlife reserve. In Mozambique, intelligence reports are stating that poachers are using land mines.

In addition to killing park rangers, the ivory traffickers are finding various ways to avoid the detection of rangers. In Zimbabwe, poachers are killing elephants for their ivory and then spreading poison onto the dead bodies. The poison is used to kill vultures so that park rangers are unable to know when elephants have been killed.

(More statistics about elephant poaching.)

Source:  Jeffery Gettleman, “Rangers in Isolated Central Africa Uncover Grim Cost of Protecting Wildlife,” New York Times, December 31, 2012.


According to a 2012 report by the WWF, the illegal wildlife trade is worth $19 Billion a year.

The WWF previously estimated that animal and wildlife trafficking to be worth between $15 billion and $25 billion a year.

$19 Billion Source:  Matt McGarth, “Wildlife crime profound threat to nations, says report,” BBC News, December 12, 2012.

$20 Billion sources:

Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, “Poaching for Bin Laden,” Guardian, May 5, 2007, (accessed: May 7, 2007).

Alan Campana, “Animal Investigators: Solving Wildlife Crimes and Saving Endangered Species,” Wilson Center, May 20, 2009.

In addition, an editorial in Voice of America News, which provides the “views of the US Government,” states that wildlife trafficking is a $20 Billion market.  Voice of America News, “Fighting Wildlife Trafficking,” Editorial, September 15, 2009.

Chinese Officials reported that over 21,000 tons of rare earth minerals was smuggled out of the country in 2011. The amount of minerals smuggled out of the country was 20 percent higher than the 18,600 tons that was legally exported out of China.

State media in China reported that of the 21,000 tons of smuggled minerals, Customs officials investigated eight cases involving 769 tons of rare earth minerals in 2011.

China holds up to 23 percent of the world’s rare earth deposits, but accounts for over 90 percent of the global supply. Rare earth minerals are used for many electronic devices, such as cell phones and batteries.

Source: Zhang Yan and Wang Qian, “Smuggling blights rare earths industry,” China Daily, December 10, 2012.

In 2011, unauthorized timber activities in Russia generated 10 million cubic meters of logs and timber to China. The value of the illegal exports was worth $1.3 Billion, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency.

(See more statistics about crime in Russia.)

Source:  Howard Amos, “Chinese Timber Hunger Drives Illegal Logging in Russia’s Far East,” Moscow Times, December 5, 2012.

A police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department stated that illegal vendors who sell bunnies in the Fashion District can make up to $300 to $400 a day during the week. On weekend, where there are more customers, the traffickers can make up to $1,000 selling bunnies.

Law enforcement officers stated that the vendors pay a portion of their revenues to the 18th Street Gang in order to sell their animals on the streets as a form of protection money.

Source:  Ana Garcia and Robbi Peele, “Collaring Animal Traffickers a Low Priority for LAPD,” NBC 4: Southern California, December 5, 2012.

Between 2000 and 2011, the number of foreign timber imported into China’s manufacturing industry tripled to reach 180 million cubic meters in 2011.China is the largest wood importer in the world.

According to estimates by the Environmental Investigation Agency, at least 10 percent of the timber that was imported into China was illegally logged.

Source:  AFP, “China demand fuels illegal logging: report,” Google News, November 29, 2012.