Egypt Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Egypt’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

A Bedouin who lives in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt has resorted to growing opium for drug traffickers in order to make a living.

The man told the media that he previously provided camel tours to tourists. Before the uprising and revolution in Egypt in 2011, the man would see about 60 tourists each day. In the years following the revolution, the number of tourists have basically dropped to zero.

Many of the workers in the region turned to growing opium in order to make money. From 0 fields before 2011, there were around 100 fields reportedly in the area as of 2014. Each new growing season brought in more opium fields.

(More heroin facts.)

In the planting season of 2014, the man had about 5 kilos of raw opium that he was planning on selling to drug traffickers. According to the man, drug dealers pay him a little under $1,370 (€1,000) per kilo. After splitting the profit with his business partner and calculating expenses such as seeds, water and labor, the farmer’s total profit from his opium field is about $826 (€600). This amount is significantly less than what he made a a tour guide.

(More earnings from illegal jobs.)

Source:  Theresa Breuer, “Egypt’s Tourism Crash Gives Way To Bustling Opium Trade,” WorldCrunch, May 8, 2014.

According to the director of the Saudi Center for Organ Transplants, over 400 people from Saudi Arabia are believed to have bought organs from organ trafficking markets between 2012 and 2013.

There were 190 incidents of organs bought by Saudis in 2012, and 220 cases of organs being bough from black markets in China, Egypt and Pakistan, according to health officials.

Out of the total number of buyers, roughly 40 percent needed to get additional medical treatment due to side effects from the illegal organ transplant.

(Organ trafficking prices on the black market.)

Source:  “Over 400 needy Saudi patients turn to organs black market in Asia,” Saudi Gazette, April 21, 2014.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, organized crime groups that facilitate human smuggling are able to generate up to $109 Million a year from transporting illegal migrants around the world.

Most of the people that are smuggled are from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and are attempting to enter Australia by traveling by sea across the Indian Ocean. Many of the people that utilize these services are religious minorities who are escaping persecution and attempting to claim asylum in Australia.

There are also cases reported of Pakistani migrants who are smuggled to Europe. According to the UNODC, there have been incidents where the migrants have been caught holding fake id cards and counterfeit documents.

In addition, criminal justice departments in Pakistan have also seen an increase in people from Syria and Egypt using these human smuggling networks to escape the violence in their countries.

Source:  Ayaz Gul, “UN: Human Trafficking Increasing in Pakistan,” Voice of America, January 23, 2014.


The United States Department of State found that hundreds of underage girls in Egypt enter temporary marriages with wealthy tourists in return for monetary payments to their families.

These marriages, called “Summer Marriages,” are not legally binding.

The wealthy men, usually from Saudi Arabia, pay the families between $500 to $5,000 as a type of dowry for the bride. After the summer is over, the girl returns to her family.

These arrangements are often organized by marriage brokers or the girl’s parents.

Source:  Milena Veselinovic, “Scandal of ‘summer brides’,” Independent, July 15, 2012.

In previous years, the buyers of ivory in Egypt were from Spain, Italy and the United States. In 2013, the dynamics of the market shifted to Asia, where buyers from China now account for over 50 percent of the illegal ivory sales in Egypt.

According to criminal justice officials, Cairo is a major wildlife trafficking center due to its geographic location between Africa and Europe. Great apes are smuggled to Cairo and then sent to the Gulf Region, China and Europe in order to meet the  demand. In September 2012, authorities seized 17 endangered falcons at Cairo International Airport, and then seized a live cobra a man was carrying in his carry-on luggage the next month.

Source:  Kira Walker, “Egypt remains a hot spot for illegal chimp and ivory trade,” Egypt Independent, March 24, 2013.

A medical technician and four other people were fined by an Egyptian court for selling blood on the black market.

The group would bring street children to an apartment and give them $1.48 (10 Egyptian Pounds) and a meal in order to draw blood. The group would then sell a bag of blood on the black market for $12.61 (85 Pounds).

(Additional human organ trafficking.)

Source: Al-Masry Al-Youm, “Five imprisoned for trafficking blood of street children,” Egypt Independent, February 27, 2013.

According to a report by British American Tobacco Egypt, up to $663 Million is lost each year due to illegal cigarette smuggling activities in the country. At least 20 percent of the 84 billion cigarettes smoked in Egypt each year was obtained on the black market, according to criminal justice programs.

The annual losses represent up to 3 percent of the country’s budget deficit. In the first half of 2011, the Egyptian Government lost tax payments of $26.84 Million.

Source:  “Illicit cigarette trade ‘costing Egypt $663m’, Trade Arabia, March 19, 2012.

According to a report by CNN, Bedouin human smugglers drug victims and cut out their organs for sale to doctors in Egypt. The doctors and hospitals pay up to $20,000 for the trafficked organs.

Source: Fred Pletgen and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, “Refugees face organ theft in the Sinai,” CNN, November 3, 2011.

Piracy of paid television in the Arab region causes losses of $500 Million a year, according to a media research firm. 8 percent of Arab households that watch television actually pay for the services through cable or satellite. The remaining 92 percent of views in the region pirate the broadcast.

In Lebanon, an estimated 99 percent of television viewers are pirating their cable signal. In Egypt, around 10 million households are receiving pirated cable feeds.

Source: Ben Flanagan, “Piracy hijacks growth of pay-TV,” National, November 3, 2011.

Cigarette smuggling in Egypt causes tax losses of $26.84 Million (160 Million Egyptian Pounds) in the first half of 2011. Out of the entire cigarette market in Egypt, 2.1 percent of cigarettes were smuggled in the first six months of the year, compared to 0.1 percent in 2010. The increase was attributed to an increase in the cigarette tax.

Source: Mohamed Ahmed el-Saadani, “Cigarette smuggling costs government LE160 million,” Almasry Alyoum, August 28, 2011.