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Criminal gangs rake in $870 billion a year worldwide: UN official

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Police find it hard to compete with international crime syndicates who rake in $870 billion a year via activities from drug trading and human trafficking to identity theft, a top UN official said Wednesday.

“This is an enormous amount of money,” Yury Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told AFP in an interview.

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If crime syndicates were classed as an industry, their collective clout would rank them among the world’s top economic players.

Crisis-era cuts have widened a longstanding financial gulf between criminal gangs and those who fight them, Fedotov said.

“Gangs are better funded than any law enforcement institution. That is clear, and especially if we compare the huge amount of illicit revenues with limited budgets of many law enforcement institutions,” he said.

But funding is just part of the problem, Fedotov explained, as law enforcement agencies struggle to keep up with shape-shifting networks that move faster than the traditionalist mafias of the past.

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“Contemporary organised crime is also sophisticated and highly adaptive,” Fedotov said.

“We should be more flexible, and not only follow the flow, but also prevent and anticipate developments in terms of organised crime,” he added.

Cybercrime is a major growth area, he explained, given that around one third of the world’s population now has active access to the Internet.

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The annual proceeds of online identity theft alone are estimated at $1.0 billion, he noted, though that is still outstripped by $20 billion generated by trafficking in endangered species.

In the narcotics trade, meanwhile, concerns focus on the rising number of designer drugs.

Fedotov also flagged worries about rising drug trafficking via the troubled Sahel and West Africa — notably through lawless Guinea Bissau, which he dubbed the “weakest link”.

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The trade through the region has been stoked by notoriously violent central American cocaine-running gangs whose north American markets have shrunk.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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Truckers are facing a ‘bloodbath’ in their industry — and it’s turning many in the pro-Trump group against him: report

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Truckers are numerous, conservative, and hurting. And despite their widespread support for Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a new report from Business Insider suggests the pain in the industry might be turning these workers away from the president.

The political trends in trucking are not insignificant. According to the American Trucking Associations, there were an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in 2018. RTS Financial has found that there are 7.4 million jobs total “tied to the trucking industry.” And Business Insider reported that nearly 90 percent of truckers are registered voters, higher than the general population.

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WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

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President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

"There was an important development in support for impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives today," MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported Tuesday. "Important both in who the new support comes from and what that support is based on."

"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

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