Environmental Crime Funds Terrorism

David Biello

Scientific American Podcast

Environmental destruction—from smuggling elephant tusks to illegal dumping of toxic waste—generates as much as $213 billion annually for criminals and terrorists.

In Somalia, the terrorist group al-Shabaab take in at least $38 million a year by felling trees illegally and burning them into charcoal. The activity is their largest source of cash. In Africa as a whole, the illegal charcoal trade—the main cooking fuel—most likely brings in more money than the illegal drug trade.
 
Taken together, all types of environmental crime—from smuggling elephant tusks to China to illegal dumping of toxic waste—generates as much as $213 billion for unsavory characters around the world. That’s according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol.

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