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Transnational environmental crime—wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, dumping hazardous waste and more—takes an estimated $91 to $259 billion bite out of the global economy and has strong ties to organized crime finance, says a new study from Michigan State University and published in Nature Sustainability.
"Transnational environmental crime, or TEC, has become the largest financial driver of social conflicts in the world," said Meredith Gore, MSU associate professor of fisheries and wildlife and co-lead author on the study. "If it's not addressed in sustainable development frameworks, these serious threats will undermine development in decades to come."
Example - TEC - Joint - Customs - Police
A high-profile example of TEC involved a recent joint customs and police sting called, "Operation Thunderball." The successful endeavor covered 109 countries and arrested 582 suspects. It recovered nearly 10,000 turtles and tortoises, 4,300 birds, 440 pieces of elephant tusks, the equivalent of 74 truckloads of timber and more.
While people and government officials are aware of some these more traditional crimes, they may be surprised to learn about other forms of TEC, and how it connects to peace and security.
Things - Instances - Waste - Countries - Wildlife
"Many of us are unaware of what happens when we throw things away, but in some instances electronic waste is illegally dumped in marginalized countries, and trafficked wildlife that gets past customs can spread zoonotic pathogens," Gore said. "People are aware of drug trafficking, but what they might not know is that it can be a key accelerant of deforestation; 'narco-deforestation' clears forests for covert roads and landing strips."
Other times, TEC rears its head in the form of illegal taxes.
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