In 2010, 29 of the 63 top drug-trafficking groups identified by the U.S. Justice Department had links to terrorist organizations, according to a White House fact sheet.
Solution: Following the Money
In 2010, after a two-year investigation, Colombian and U.S. authorities dismantled a drug trafficking organization that stretched from Colombia to Panama, Mexico, the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Most of the drugs originated with the FARC, a U.S.-designated terrorist group in Colombia, and some proceeds were traced, through a Lebanese expatriate network, to the funding of another U.S.-designated terrorist group, Hezbollah. The key money launderer in the scheme, Chekry Harb, also known as "Taliban," acted as the central go-between among Latin American drug trafficking organizations and Middle Eastern radical groups.
Problem: Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is the second-fastest-growing criminal activity in the world after the drug trade, according to the U.S. Justice Department. It is a global, $32 billion criminal industry, says the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Solution: Joint Investigations
In February 2011, U.S. federal agents broke up a sex-slave ring in Houston, Texas. Ten people, including Mexican and Honduran nationals, were arrested and indicted, and nine women were rescued. The arrests concluded a three-year investigation by Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance composed of federal, state and local authorities, including the U.S. State Department.
Problem: Firearms Smuggling
The global market for illicit firearms is estimated at $170 million to $320 million per year by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Some terrorist groups resort to firearms smuggling to arm themselves and fund their activities.
Solution: International Cooperation
In March 2012, Australian and German authorities broke up a gun-smuggling ring. In the preceding months, the crime group imported illegally from Germany to Australia 220 Glock pistols and an even greater cache of ammunition. Three men in Australia were charged with a series of related offences.
The global trade in counterfeit goods is worth between $250 billion and $600 billion per year. Terrorist and paramilitary groups often turn to such trade for funding.
Solution: Customs Collaboration
In fall 2009, containers shipped from Asia to Europe came under extra scrutiny as customs officials from 13 Asian and 27 European countries collaboratively targeted suspicious shipments. Officials impounded 30 containers and seized more than 65 million counterfeit cigarettes and other pirated items. The joint investigation identified 89 individuals or companies involved in counterfeiting.
Problem: Illicit Wildlife Trade
The value of the illegal wildlife trade — originating mostly from Southeast Asia and Africa — is estimated at $10 billion to $20 billion per year by Interpol.
Solution: Regional Intelligence
In May 2010, police forces and agents from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe swooped on markets and shops across southern Africa in an Interpol-coordinated move against illegal trade in wildlife. Law enforcement officers located and closed an illegal ivory factory, seized nearly 400 kilos of ivory and rhino horn and arrested 41 people. Information gathered during the operation helped to identify smuggling routes inside and outside Africa.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) runs the world’s largest wildlife law enforcement network, which relies on regional intelligence sharing.