Top UN official warns of organized crimes global reach

18 October 2010The United Nations anti-crime chief today spotlighted the global toll taken by transnational organized crime, urging the universal implementation of the world body’s convention to combat the scourge. Organized crime, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), underlined that organized crime has “ballooned to global proportions.”Countries have gathered in Vienna for a week-long UN gathering kicking off today to review global progress one decade after the adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in the Italian city of Palermo.Opening the meeting, Mr. Fedotov said that while the pact is a powerful tool, it is underutilized.Currently, 157 States have ratified the Convention, which forms the global basis for extradition and mutual legal assistance.The UNODC head said greater awareness is needed to help States make more effective use of the treaty.The Convention provides new possibilities for law enforcement agencies to cooperate, including transborder intelligence-sharing and joint investigations, and the definition of transnational organized crime can be applied broadly to include new and emerging forms of crime in areas such as trafficking in natural resources or counterfeit medicines.UNODC said that the treaty can hit criminals where it hurts most by cutting off their cash lifeblood through its measures to combat money laundering, chasing plundered assets and ending banking secrecy.“We also need a comprehensive, system-wide response that strengthens resistance to organized crime at its points of origin, along trafficking routes and at the final destinations for its illicit goods,” Mr. Fedotov stressed.According to its 2010 Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment, UNODC found that drug trafficking continues to be the most lucrative line of business for criminals.Cocaine trafficked from the Andean region to North America and Europe is worth more than $70 billion annually and heroin moved from Afghanistan to Europe has a street value of over $30 billion. This means that cocaine and heroin traffickers earn nearly $280 million every day – or $200,000 every minute.

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