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.

Although Venezuela is estimated to produce 150,000 carets of diamonds annually, it has officially exported none since 2005.


In the 1990s, it was estimated that as much as 25 percent of the world’s diamonds were in some way illicit (used for money laundering, tax evasion, purchasing drugs, weapons and other goods, or were stolen).


Author Larry Kahaner reported on the value of diamonds as an illicit product. Kahaner stated that “Diamonds and other gemstones are perfect for moving wealth around they are small, hold their value, and are universally acceptable as barter, don’t set off airport metal detectors, and can easily be converted to cash.”

Source: Larry Kahaner, AK-47: The Weapon That Changed The Face Of War, (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2007), pg. 90.

The profits for wildlife traffickers can be as high as 800 percent, based on the animal smuggled and the difficulty in obtaining it.

See prices of endangered animals here. 

Source: Ben Davies, Black Market: Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia, (California: Earth Aware.2005), pg. 28.

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the value of the smuggled animal increases between 25 to 50 percent as it moves through the supply chain.

Source: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, “Just the Facts,” Gazette, Vol.66, Issue 3, 2004.


In the 1980s, poachers were getting $5 to $6 a kilo.

In the illegal trade in ivory, poaches earn up to $750 a kilo on the black market.

Source: Annie Mcilroy, “Genetic maps help unravel black market in ivory,” Globe and Mail, February 27, 2007.


Over a million plants, live and dead animals, animal parts, and medicines produced from endangered species were seized in the United Kingdom during a 12-month period.

Source: Louise Gray, “War declared on wildlife thieves,” The Scotsman, October 19, 2006.


China  is the biggest market in the world for tiger bone, leopard cat, rhino horn, and sea horse worldwide.

Environmental organizations estimate that China imports up to 15 tons of elephant ivory each year in addition to the wildlife mentioned above.

Source: Ben Davies, Black Market: Inside The Endangered Species Trade in Asia, (California: Earth Aware.2005) , pg. 29.

Officials in China has stated that the ban on the internal trade in tiger parts has cost the country $4 billion.

Source: The Economist, April 21, 2007, pg. 49.

In 2006, 163,000 illegal wildlife items were seized by UK customs

Source: BBC News, “Warning over wildlife souvenirs,” BBC News, August 16, 2007. (accessed: August 16, 2007).