Illicit trade is the production, import, export, purchase, sale or possession of goods failing to comply with the legislation of a country. It is a major and growing problem worldwide as it is a major source of funding for organized crime and terrorist organizations.
Counterfeit medicines account for over 1 million deaths annually, governments are losing billions of dollars in tax revenues, the proceeds of legitimate businesses are being undermined.
Although difficult to measure, almost every sector of society and product category is affected. The United Nations estimated that in 2009, US$2.1 trillion was generated by the illicit trade. According to the International Chamber of Commerce, the cost to the international economy of counterfeiting and piracy alone was US$1 trillion in 2011. The World Trade Organization estimates that the value of counterfeit and pirated goods is equivalent to some 7% of the world’s merchandise.
In November 2016 Crime Stoppers embarked on an initiative in collaboration with the tobacco industry to address the illicit cigarette trade in El Salvador.
Since the start the following successes have been achieved.
- 193 master cases of cigarettes seized (1,930,000 sticks);
- 22 arrests; 8 of the persons arrested are alleged heads of illicit trade networks.;
- 4 vehicles and 11 guns seized;
- 3 major investigations currently in progress;
- 1 team of police officers (comprised of 40 agents) assigned to work with Crime Stoppers;
- 1 combined task force of police officers and military personnel (comprised of 87 agents) assigned.
This “Denuncie Hoy” campaign will soon be extended to Guatemala.