Friday, the Clinton Administration released the International Crime
Threat Assessment, the most comprehensive treatment of this global
problem released to date by the U.S. Government. Prepared pursuant to
the President's International Crime Control Strategy, the new assessment
addresses the full range of transnational crime activities on a
The assessment represents a major step forward in our ongoing efforts to
document the international crime problem and analyze the serious threat
it poses to the United States. The new report is divided into five
PART I, the Global Context of International Crime, identifies those
factors that have contributed to the growing problem of international
PART II details the International Crimes Affecting U.S. Interests,
including: terrorism, drug and arms trafficking, migrant smuggling,
trafficking in women and children, cyber-crime, counterfeiting and money
laundering, among others.
PART III addresses Worldwide Areas of International Criminal
Activity, particularly as source areas for specific crimes and as bases
of operations for international criminal organizations.
PART IV discusses the Consequences of International Crime for U.S.
Strategic Interests, including the ability of the U.S. Government to
work cooperatively with foreign governments in responding to
transnational problems and the issues related to criminal safehavens,
kleptocracies, and failed states.
PART V offers a perspective on the Future of International Crime as
this phenomenon may develop over the next ten years.
Key findings of the comprehensive assessment include the following:
The illegal drug trade, controlled by organized crime groups
operating around the globe, results in the death of thousands of
Americans each year, fuels crime and violence on American streets, and
costs U.S. society billions of dollars in health and other expenses.
Many other countries also face serious drug-related problems, including
increasing domestic consumption, corruption, and links between drug
traffickers and other violent groups.
More than 10,000 Americans died as a direct result of drug
consumption in 1998.
Estimated total cost of drug abuse to United States, including
increased health care costs and lost productivity, was $110 billion in
1995 (last year for which this data is available).
Both migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, already
significant global problems, appear to be increasing.
An estimated 500,000 illegal migrants are brought to the United
States by organized alien smuggling groups each year.
The U.S. Government estimates that at least 700,000 women and
children were trafficked across borders in 1997, approximately 45,000 to
50,000 to the United States.
Money laundering supports drug trafficking and other organized
crime syndicates while threatening the stability and integrity of
international financial systems.
Each year, by one estimate, approximately $1 trillion is laundered
worldwide; $300-500 billion of that sum is thought to represent proceeds
of drug trafficking.
Certain offshore banking centers offer havens for illicit funds and
impede the efforts of regulators and law enforcement to prevent these
funds from entering the international financial system.
Violations of intellectual property rights cost many U.S. jobs and
causes billion dollar losses to U.S. industry each year.
Copyrighted products (e.g., movies, software, music and books) are
now the single largest export sector in U.S. economy. 1998 losses due
to copyright violations totaled nearly $12.4 billion. Stolen software
costs the U.S. industry $12 billion a year globally.
Potential losses to U.S. industry resulting from economic espionage
are estimated to be almost $300 billion, three times the figure several
Trafficking in arms and diamonds fuels insurgencies and threatens
Illicit arms trafficking has intensified conflicts in Afghanistan,
Africa, and the former Yugoslavia. Organized crime groups provided many
of the arms sold on the black market in and around the former
UNITA in Angola and the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone
largely fund their insurgencies by mining and illegally exporting
diamonds. In Southeast Asia, smuggling of precious gems helped fund the
Khmer Rouge insurgency in Cambodia, and continues to be a secondary
source of support for drug-trafficking insurgent armies in Burma.
Sanctions violations challenge international order and undermine
U.S. foreign policy.
Organized crime groups have been active in the circumvention of
sanctions in the former Yugoslavia.
Cybercrime threatens our ability to protect and defend critical
Many essential government functions are dependent on information
that passes through information systems outside the federal information
infrastructure. Critical public infrastructure industries, such as
power and energy, telecommunications and transportation systems, rely
extensively on computer networks.
Reported losses from computer crime in 1999 were $265 million,
almost double the 1998 reported losses. The number of U.S. businesses
reporting intrusions through internet connections rose from 37 percent
in 1996 to 70 percent in 1998.
Terrorism remains a significant national security threat to the
United States, as many international terrorist groups continue to see
U.S. interests as prime targets and to demonstrate their operational
capability to strike in varied ways and locations.
In 1999, there were 169 terrorist attacks against U.S. targets
worldwide (up 52% from 1998).
In carrying out a wide range of unlawful activities, transnational
criminal syndicates weaken governments and corrupt criminal justice
systems in many countries.
Drug trafficking syndicates in Colombia have fueled decades of
violence and corruption, thereby severely undermining Colombia's law
enforcement and judicial institutions.
Official corruption weakens governments and threatens democracies
and free markets.
Corruption impedes the transitions of some former communist
countries to democracy and free markets.
Corruption has also contributed to instability ranging from
Indonesia to Nigeria.
The Administration believes that a better understanding and broader
awareness of international crime -- by both governments and the publics
they serve -- are essential if the world community is to improve the
effectiveness of its efforts to combat this increasing global problem.
The comprehensive assessment released today represents important
progress towards this critical goal.