A groundbreaking United Nations report today revealed that cross-border criminal activity generates $870 billion every year, more then six times the amount of global development aid.
The United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime today rolled out the report -- the first of its kind -- in tandem with a global awareness-raising campaign meant to draw attention to the global effects of transnational crime.
Researchers found that drug trafficking is "the most lucrative" for international crime rings, fetching them $320 billion a year.
The $250 billion-a-year illegal counterfeiting business "is also a very high earner for organized crime groups," the report added.
Human trafficking generates $32 billion a year.
The environment also continues to be taken advantage of by criminal groups, with timber trafficking in Southeast Asia bringing in $3.5 billion annually, for example, and elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts illegally taken from Africa and Asia generating an annual $75 million, said the report.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov today said the money generated by these groups -- a figure equal to 1.5 percent of world GDP -- "represents one of the international community's greatest global challenges," according to Reuters.