Why We Must Confront the Growing Threat to National Security Posed by Illicit Economies and Cesspools of Corruption and Organized Crime


Originally posted on

David M. Luna, founder and executive director of The International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE) and USA-IT partner, discusses illegal trade’s economic and societal costs and how we can work together to fight back:

“The lucrative criminal activities enabling and fueling the multitrillion-dollar illicit economies include the smuggling and trafficking of narcotics, opioids, weapons, humans, counterfeit and pirated goods; illegal tobacco and alcohol products; illegally harvested timber, wildlife and fish; pillaged oil, diamonds, gold, natural resources and precious minerals; and other contraband commodities. Such contraband and illicit goods are sold on our main streets, on social media, in online marketplaces and on the dark web every minute of every day.  The United Nations has estimated that the dirty money laundered annually from such criminal activities constitutes up to 5 percent of global gross domestic product, or $4 trillion.”

“These illicit economies divert revenue from legitimate market drivers such as businesses and governments and impair the ability of communities to make the investments necessary to stimulate economic growth, especially during these hard economic times.  Revenue that could be used to build roads to facilitate commerce, hospitals to fight pandemic outbreaks and diseases, homes to raise and protect families or schools to educate children and future leaders, is instead lost to criminals’ greed crimes.”

“We also need more holistic whole-of-society approaches in order to strengthen the political will in risky markets, confiscate criminally derived proceeds, promote information sharing, coordinate actionable intelligence across borders and develop more innovative and smarter global supply chain solutions to combat illicit pathways.”

“The international community must harness greater attention, partnerships and collective action to tackle these inter-connected threats that impact us all. There are no global problems that can be solved by any one partner working alone. That’s why ICAIE is proud to support the United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade public education initiative, and other public and private sector partnerships, working to protect American security and prosperity from black markets and the filthy lucre of criminals.”

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