UNEP-INTERPOL Report: Value of Environmental Crime up 26%

Already, thousands of people and more than 25 ministers have chosen a species to show their commitment to protecting wildlife. The host of this year’s World Environment Day, the Government of Angola, has joined the fight, promising to shut down its domestic trade in illegal ivory, toughen border controls and restore its elephant population through conservation measures.

More than one quarter of the world’s elephant population has been killed in a decade. Some of world’s most vulnerable wildlife, like rhinos and elephants, are being killed at a rate that has grown by more than 25 per cent every year in the last decade.

The report also looks at how money generated from the illegal exploitation of natural resources funds rebel groups, terrorist networks and international criminal cartels. In the last decade, for example, poachers have killed an average of 3,000 elephants per year in Tanzania. That’s an annual street market value for ivory traffickers of $10.5 million, an amount that is five times greater than the entire national budget of the country’s wildlife division.

Organized criminal cartels
The report notes that transnational organized criminal networks are using environmental crime to launder drug money. Illegal gold mining in Colombia, for example, is now considered one of the easiest ways to launder money from the country’s drug trade.

International criminal cartels are also involved in the trafficking of hazardous waste and chemicals, often mislabelling this type of waste in order to evade law enforcement agencies. In 2013, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that the illegal trade in e-waste to Southeast Asia and the Pacific was estimated at $3.75 billion annually.