1. Laos $0.855 Billion ($855 Million)

  2. Black Market Crime in Laos

Laos Security Threats

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

Is it safe to travel to Laos?

According to media reports, security agents in Thailand killed at least 69 loggers from Cambodia in 2013 who were attempting to illegally cut down timber in Thailand.

The rate of violence between loggers and security and environmental protection officials in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar have increased in recent years due to the demand for luxury furniture in China. The Siamese rosewood, which is found in the Mekong area, is used to make high-end furniture in China. Between 2000 and 2014, an estimated $2.4 Billion worth of precious timber has been imported to China to meet the demand. The Siamese rosewood is sold for thousands of dollars per cubic meter, with illegal loggers able to make hundreds of dollars per day cutting down the trees.

(All illegal logging statistics.)

Source:  AFP, “China demand for luxury furniture ‘decimating rosewood’,” GlobalPost, May 12, 2014.

According to wildlife conservation groups, up to $1 Billion worth of illegally grown python skins are being imported into Europe each year. The black market trade in python skins helping to meet the demand for python skin handbags sold by Gucci and other luxury brands.

The legal market for python skins has grown from $137 Million (€100 Million) in 2005 to $1 Billion in 2014.

Although there are commercial farms growing python skins in Asia, industry officials believe that most of the skins being exported from Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia could have been collected from the black market.

(More exotic animals for sale prices.)

Source:  Sarah Butler, “Illegal python skins feed hunger for fashionable handbags and shoes,” Guardian, March 31, 2014.

Illegal logging activities was the top economic related crime in Laos in 2013, according to media reports.

Out of a total of 559 fraud or economic related crimes reported in Laos, 257 cases were related to illegal logging, or 46 percent of all cases.

During the investigations, security services seized 671,000 cubic meters of processed wood, 4.5 million cubic meters of logs, 15 chainsaws, 20 vehicles and 3 motorbikes. A total of $550,000 in cash was also recovered.

Laos has 24 protected national forests across the country.

Source:  “Illegal Logging Tops Economic Crime In Laos Last Year,” Bernama, February 18, 2014.


Environmental activists estimate that up to 80 percent of the timber that is processed in Vietnam was smuggled into the country from Cambodia and Laos. It is also alleged that the Vietnamese military assists in the smuggling of illegal timber.

The amount timber estimated to be smuggled into Vietnam in 2013 was higher than the 48 percent estimate made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2010.

Source:  Marianne Brown, “EU timber policy slows illegal logging in Vietnam,” Deutsche Welle, November 26, 2013.

The Vietnam Tobacco Association states that over 100 different brands of cigarettes are smuggled into Vietnam each year. The brands Jet and Hero are the most popular, with the two brands consisting of over 90 percent of the smuggled tobacco in the country.

Roughly 20 percent of the country’s tobacco market is smuggled cigarettes. Most of the black market tobacco are smuggled into the country from China, Laos, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Source:  “Vietnam Prepares For Rise In Cigarette Smuggling As New Year Festival Looms,” Bernama, November 13, 2013

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) consume 70 percent of all the heroin that is abused in the East Asia and Pacific Region.

Up to 65 tonnes of heroin is used by addicts in China each year. In order to meet the demand, 90 percent of all heroin that is produced in the Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) is trafficked to China. Laos has also begun increasing its opium production, with an increase of 66 percent of opium farming taking place in the country in 2011.

Criminal justice and public health programs in China have officially registered 1.2 million heroin addicts in the country.

(Price of heroin by country.)

Source:  David Elmer, “It’s happy hour for the heroin traffickers of the Golden Triangle,” South China Morning Post, September 26, 2013.

An estimated 1.4 billion methamphetamine tablets, known as Yaba in the region, are produced each year in the Golden Triangle region consisting of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.

The street value of the tablets are estimated to be worth $8.5 Billion a year.

In Thailand, there are an estimated 600,000 yaba users in the country.

(Methamphetamine Facts and Statistics.)

Source:  AFP, “Thailand Fights Drug Gangs In Golden Triangle With Help From China,” Huffington Post, July 18, 2013.

Migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos reportedly pay human smugglers up to $192 Million a year in order to be smuggled into Thailand. Most of the revenue for smugglers is generated from Myanmar, where migrants pays an estimated $183 Million to human smugglers to bring them into Thailand. Migrants from Cambodia pay $4.7 Million, and people from Laos pay $4.3 Million to the smugglers.

The United Nations estimates that over 500,000 people are smuggled into Thailand each year.

(Prices paid to human smugglers.)

Source: “Transnational Organized Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment,” UNODC, April 2013, Executive Summary, page iv.

In 2007, there were 1,500 hectares of illicit opium poppy cultivation in Laos, according to the United Nations.

In 2012, the hectares of illicit cultivation increased to 6,800.

Various criminal justice programs across the country eradicated about 700 hectares of opium poppy and destroyed 12 kilograms of heroin in 2012.

(Additional heroin trafficking statistics.)

Source: International Narcotics Control Board, 2012 Report, United Nation, March 5, 2013, page 80.

In 2011, police and law enforcement officials investigated 49 cases of suspected human trafficking in Laos. The investigations involved 69 alleged offenders and prosecutors were able to obtain 37 criminal convictions in court.

In 2010, criminal justice programs in Laos investigated 33 cases of human trafficking and obtained 33 criminal convictions.

Source:  “20 Held for Girls’ Smuggling,” Radio Free Asia, November 20, 2012.