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.

In 2008, the Governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank told a conference that 10,000 people were entering Zimbabwe each month to work in the illicit diamond trade.


121 tons of ivory was lost to wildlife smugglers in China between 1991-2002.

The 121 tons is the equivalent of the tusks from 11,000 elephants.


Illegal logging activities in New Zealand creates losses of $222 Million (266 Million New Zealand Dollars) a year to the timber industry. The pulp, panel and paper industries lose the majority of the revenue, with $170 Million (203 New Zealand Dollars) lost to illegal logging.

(More environmental crime statistics.)


The price of ivory on the black market has increased from $200 a kilo in 2004 to $850 to $900 in 2008.

(See all prices of endangered animals and other wildlife products.)


In the early 1970s, the global rhino population stood at 75,000.  Due to wildlife trafficking and smuggling, in 2008 the global rhino population stood around 11,000.



Slate Magazine explains why the Mafia is involved in trash smuggling.

It’s Mob Economics 101: Find a business that’s easy to enter and lucrative to control. Criminal organizations make lots of money from drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeit goods, but creating a monopoly on garbage collection is attractive because the business itself is legal, and public contracts return big profits. Compared with something like running a casino or grocery store, the logistics of taking trash from Point A to Point B are a no-brainer. Anyone with a truck and a couple of strong guys can make good money, and there’s always a demand for the service.

Unauthorized fishing in the waters off of New Zealand leads to an estimated 1,000 tons of abalone to be illegally fished.

Officially, up to 1,057 tons of abalone is allowed to be fished each year.

(More statistics about illegal fishing of abalone.)


Venezuela losses 27,000 barrels of oil per day and up to $1 Billion in revenue every year to oil smuggling.


The ” blood diamond” market, or diamonds smuggled and trafficked for illicit products,  is estimated  to  amount  up to 4 percent of the $7 billion global diamond market, or $280 Million.


According to the United Nations Environment Programme, organized crime groups involved in trash smuggling and illegal dumping of waste earn between $10 to $12 Billion a year from their black market activities.