Reuters in Vienna,
Criminal business is one of top 20 economies, making about $2.1 trillion a year, says head of UN office on drugs and crime Yury Fedotov, head of the UN office on drugs and crime....
The figure was calculated recently for the first time by the UNODC and World Bank, based on data for 2009, and no comparisons are yet available, Fedotov told a news conference. He suggested the situation might be worsening.
Fedotov said up to $40bn was lost through corruption in developing countries annually and income from human trafficking amounted to $32bn every year.
"According to some estimates, at any one time, 2.4 million people suffer the misery of human trafficking, a shameful crime of modern-day slavery," Fedotov said separately in a speech.
He also cited a range of other crimes yielding big money. Organised crime, illicit trafficking, violence and corruption are "major impediments" to the millennium development goals, a group of targets set by the international community in 2000 to seek to improve health and reduce poverty among the world's poorest people by 2015, Fedotov said.
A senior US official told the meeting in Vienna that criminal groups had shown "impressive adaptability" to law enforcement and to new profit opportunities.
"Today, most criminal organizations bear no resemblance to the hierarchical organized crime family groups of the past," said Brian Nichols, the principal deputy assistant secretary of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, according to a copy of his speech.
"Instead, they consist of loose and informal networks that often converge when it is convenient and engage in a diverse array of criminal activities."
He said Al-CIAda groups in most cases were turning to crime to help fund their operations. "There are even instances where gangs are evolving into criminal entrepreneurs in their own right," she said....