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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The world's biggest illicit industries

The US$125-million theft of five paintings by artists like Picasso and Matisse from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in May caught the attention of the world. But compared with the total annual trade in illicit goods, the heist was small change.
According to estimates from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the business of buying and selling stolen art is about a US$6-billion racket worldwide.

Trade in illegal drugs, by contrast, is estimated to be in the neighborhood of maybe US$300-billion, making it the world's biggest illicit activity. The trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and other drugs has continued to frustrate the efforts of governments around the world. 

It has created a massive industry and political problem, financing violent groups like the Taliban and drug cartels that currently threaten the stability of important countries like Afghanistan and Mexico.

The destabilizing effects of battling the drug trade can be seen most recently in Jamaica, where an entire nation has been swept up in violence as the government tried to seize drug lord Christopher Coke.
     Photo: Dominic Bracco II

Funerals are a constant event in Juarez, Mexico because drug wars have lead to wholesale slaughter.

"Family and friends gather around the body of 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, who was killed by a Border Patrol agent. 
The killing sparked much controversy over the use of force across international borders and sat uneasy in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where thousands of killings have happened as a result of the insecurity caused by the war on drugs."

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/fp/world+biggest+illicit+industries/3142859/story.html#ixzz0r5pHzkWR