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.

The United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol stated in September 2012 that illegal logging activities accounts for 30 percent of all woods traded globally.

In areas such as the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia, the rate of illegal logging is between 50 to 90 percent of all logging activities.

AFP, “Organised crime moving into logging: UN, Interpol,” Google News, September 27, 2012.

Illegal logging activities in Tanzania is estimated to cut down up to 500,000 hectares of forest each year. The entire country has 33.5 million hectares of forest.

Between 2004 and 2005, up to $58 Million was lost to illegal logging in Tanzania due to corruption, according to Traffic International.

Source:  “Illegal logging costs the nation in revenue,” DailyNews, September 24, 2012.

International Police Organization INTERPOL reported in September 2012 that the value of illegal logging in 2012 was worth over $30 Billion a year. The figure reported by INTERPOL is double the $15 Billion reported by the World Bank in March 2012.

INTERPOL stated that over $8 Billion worth of illegal logging activities takes place in Indonesia alone.

Source:  James Melik, “Interpol clamps down on illegal logging,” BBC News, September 10, 2012.

A report released by environmental group Global Witness states that up to one-quarter of all logging permits issued in Liberia within a two-year period were illegally granted.

Source:  Elizabeth Rosenthal, “Illegal Logging Deals Rife in Liberia, Group Reports,” New York Times, Green Blog, September 4, 2012.

A Kaiser’s spotted newt, also known as the Luristan Newt or the Emperor Spotted Newt, is a salamander that is found in Iran and is classified as an at-risk species.

The spotted salamander for sale online due to wildlife traffickers providing the animal. According to reports, the salamander costs $103 (£65) on the Internet.

(More prices of exotic animals for sale.)

Source:  Nic Fleming, “Illegal wildlife trading in internet’s deepest, darkest corners,” Guardian, September 3, 2012.


Cardboard recyclers are estimating that they are losing between $8 Million to $10 Million  a year to theft of used cardboard in New York City.

Over 150,000 commercial establishments in the city have contracts with waste management companies that pick-up used cardboard from their stores. These cardboard boxes are broken down and sent to recyclers.  Thieves are instead driving rented trucks around the city and stealing the stacks of cardboard boxes and recycling it themselves.

An official with the waste management lobby stated that a thief  could fill up a truck with one and a half tons of cardboard and make $150 for the haul.

Source:  John Metcalfe, “Inside the Surprisingly Lucrative World of Cardboard Theft,” The Atlantic Cities, July 31, 2012.

In 2011, an estimated 20 tones of dried seahorse was seized by police around the world. The seahorse is ground up into powder and used in Asian countries for its aphrodisiac purposes.

Half of the seahorse seizes in 2011 took place in Peru.

(Price list of endangered animals.)

Source:  “Peru police seize thousands of dried seahorses,” BBC News, August 23, 2012.

Law enforcement officials and traders in the Philippines estimate that up to 90 percent of the gold mining done by small-scale miners in the country is sold on the black market and smuggled out of the country.

By law, gold that is mined in the Philippines must be sold to the Central Bank. However, in the second quarter of 2012, the amount of gold sold by small-scale miners dropped by 98 percent from the year before.

Gold Miners are selling their gold on the black market either directly to tourists, or to middlemen who smuggle the gold onto world markets such as Hong Kong.

Source:  Rosemarie Francisco, “Special Report: Philippines’ black market is China’s golden connection,” Reuters, August 22, 2012.

An illegal logger told a reporter that he is able to make around $150 a month from illegally cutting down 10 trees in Zimbabwe.

Government officials estimate that illegal logging in the country causes several millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Source:  “‘Illegal logging costs Zim millions of dollars’”, Standard, August 20, 2012.

Illegal mining groups in Colombia are reported to be paying 1 percent of their total production to paramilitary groups such as the FARC. One miner who is involved in unlicensed mining stated that his group pays between $540 to 840 a month in extortion fees.

The Mine Minister of Colombia estimated that at least 40 percent of all mining activities in Colombia in 2011 was unlicensed. The drug trafficking and paramilitary organizations control at least 30 percent of the illegal mining activities.

Source:  “Mining in Colombia: Gold and guerillas,” Economist, August 17, 2012.