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.

According to a survey conducted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Indonesia, the Forest Ministry is viewed as being the most corrupt institution in the country.  The Commission found that illegal loggers buying logging permits through bribes were the most common form of corruption in the ministry.

Government data shows that 16 percent of logging permits that were issued by the ministry followed regulation and met all environmental requirements prior to being issued.

In addition to the forest ministry employees, workers from various criminal justice programs in Indonesia has also been found to have been participating in illegal logging. In May 2013, a police officer was arrested for running a $150 Million logging ring in the eastern Papua region. (Additional cases of police corruption.)

As many as two million hectares of Indonesian forest is cut down and lost each year. The amount of forest lost is equivalent to 10,000 football fields per day.

Source:  “Indonesia struggles to clean up corrupt forestry sector,” Bangkok Post, January 1, 2014.

Over 50,000 hectares of rainforests in Peru was estimated to have been destroyed in 2013 due to illegal mining activities. In 2012, 18,000 hectares of rainforest was destroyed due to illegal mining.

Illegal mining has become a profitable activity on the black market for criminals in Peru. The value of the illegal gold mining in 2013 was 15 percent higher than the profits drug traffickers received from trafficking cocaine.

Source:  Cecilia Jamasmie, “Illegal mining is Latin America’s new cocaine,” Mining.com, December 23, 2013.

Illegal loggers are smuggling out the bois de rose tree out of Madagascar to meet high demand for the timber. The bois de rose tree are popular in international markets due to its natural ruby colored hue within the wood.

One illegal logging group leader stated that he pays his loggers $1.33 for each kilogram of bois de rose that they cut down.

Back in 2009, an estimated $491,000 worth of bois de rose trees were being exported out of Madagascar each day. Environmental protection officers believe that the amount being exported in 2013 was much higher.

(More underground economy salaries and income.)

Source:  Tamasin Ford, “Madagascar’s forests vanish to feed taste for rosewood in west and China,” Guardian, December 23, 2013.

The Nigerian Navy reported destroying 1,556 illegal oil refineries that were selling oil on the black market in Nigeria during its 2013 fiscal year.

Along with the illegal production sites, security services in Nigeria also apprehended 1,646 people for oil smuggling activities.

In 2013, it was estimated that up to 100,000 barrels of oil was being stolen from refineries each day in Nigeria.

Source:  “Navy Destroys 1,556 Illegal Oil Refineries, Arrests 1646 Suspect in 2013,” ThisDay Live, December 23, 2013.

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.

Criminal justice 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.

Addition oil theft statistics.


The World Gold Council estimates that between 150 to 200 tonnes of gold was smuggled into India in 2013. Officially, there was also 900 tonnes of gold that was imported to the country during the year. ‘

Intelligence officials in India state that most of the gold originates in Dubai, with Singapore also becoming a key player. The gold is smuggled to Sri Lanka, where it is then transported into the country.

Customs officials have begun paying informants a higher reward for help in stooping gold smuggling than they pay illegal drug informants. An informant who provides information about gold smuggling can receive a reward up to $807 (50,000 Indian Rupees) for each kilogram of bullion seized. By comparison, a cocaine informant can receive up to $645 (40,000 Rupees) while a heroin informant receives up to $322 (20,000 Rupees) as a reward.

The actually smuggler who carries the gold into India is paid $161 (10,000 Rupees) per trip.

(More underground income and profits.)

Source:  A. Anathalakshmi and Siddesh Mayenkar, “Bullion smuggling outstrips narcotics to feed gold habit,” Reuters, December 4, 2013.

The Myanmar Timber Merchants Association reports that its members lose up to $200 Million per year in revenue due to illegal logging activities.

The timber is illegally cut down and exported to China.

According to environmental security officials, the areas were illegally logging are highly active is in the Kachina and Shan states that are located near the Myanmar-China border.

Source:  “Millions lost in illegal timber trade with China,” Eleven Myanmar, December 4, 2013.

According to security services in Colombia, between 10 to 15 percent of the fuel used by drivers in Colombia was smuggled into the country.

Roughly one million gallons of gasoline is smuggled into the country each day, with 70 to 80 percent of the fuel coming from Venezuela. The remaining gas is smuggled into Colombia from Ecuador.

In Venezuela, a gallon of gasoline costs about 1 cent when using the black market exchange rate.

Source:  Matthew Bristow and Andrew Willis, “Cocaine for Venezuela Fuel Tankers Irks Colombia Tax Boss,” Bloomberg, December 2, 2013.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that there are about 500,000 elephants living in Africa.

In 2012, poachers killed an estimated 22,000 elephants across Africa for the elephants ivory.

The black market trade in ivory rose to the highest level recorded in 16 years during 2011.

70 percent of the ivory that is taken from dead elephants are shipped to China.

(Prices of endangered animals on the illegal wildlife trade market.)

Source:  Michael Gunn, “Poaching May Wipe Out Fifth of Africa’s Elephants, Groups Say,” Bloomberg, December 2, 2013.

A wildlife charity in Cyprus stated that companies were offering tourists to go off the coast of the country and illegally fish for sharks.

Nireas Marine Research stated that companies charge tourists $1,360 (€1,000) to fish for sharks. In videos and photos posted on Facebook, the tourist catches the shark and pulls it on to the boat. Then, using a hammer, the tourist beats the shark to death.

Source:  Peter Stevenson, “NGOs say nothing is done to stop illegal shark-fishing,” Cyprus Mail, November 28, 2013.