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Illicit Trade

Converging Criminal Networks

This report assesses the magnitude, flows and drivers of illicit trade and the illegal economy including: narcotics, human trafficking, wildlife, sports betting, counterfeit medicines, alcohol and tobacco. The negative socio-economic impacts that these markets have in consumer countries are as worrisome as the goverance gaps that are exploited in source countries. This report examines each illicit sector in terms of the geographic sources, destinations and key trade routes, the current trend of infiltration by organized crime networks, and good practices or future policy solutions with which to combat illicit trade within the various sectors.

Published on April 18, 2016

In series:OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policiesview more titles


Executive summary
Illicit trade
Trafficking in persons
Wildlife trafficking trends in sub-Saharan Africa
Illicit trade in counterfeit medicines
A brief overview of illicit trade in tobacco products
The global illicit trade in illegal narcotics
The size, impacts and drivers of illicit trade in alcohol
Sport manipulation as economic crime
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Key findings


Governments need to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement to share information across borders to keep pace with these changes, and they also need to take stock of the policies that inadvertently create business opportunities for criminals.


Governments are less flexible and agile than the networks that traffic contraband around the globe. Enforcement actions might stem one flow, but criminal entrepreneurs can quickly change their trade routes.


A comprehensive approach to stemming illicit trade explores how to reduce consumer demand for prohibited and illicit goods. It is premised on the willingness of leaders to exercise their full power to levy sanctions with deterrent effect both on traffickers and their cohorts.