Illegal activity plays a significant role in the contemporary global economy. This
illegal activity involves the movement of both people and goods. Illegal trade asso-
ciated with the movement of persons and commodities between places is known
as trafficking. Trafficking is usually motivated by the prospect of financial gain. Traf-
fickers, or persons who participate in the illegal movement of persons and goods,
risk apprehension, prosecution, and criminal penalties in order to profit from their
Historically, millions of persons have been trafficked as slaves, and the labor pro-
vided by these slaves generated very high profits for their masters. Today, human
trafficking victims are often forced into menial labor or into the sex trade. These
persons are forced to provide services at far less than the value of their labor, again
generating profits for traffickers. Many types of commodities, including narcotics,
armaments, gems and precious stones, antiquities, and wildlife, are also trafficked.
Indeed, any item of value to consumers willing to purchase that item on the black
market is subject to trafficking.
Anything that is trafficked is moved from a place of origin to a place of destination.
Thus individual countries can be identified as source countries, transit countries, or
destination countries for both people and goods. For example, cocaine is produced
from coca leaves that are cultivated in northwestern South Amer i ca, especially Colom-
bia and Peru. Hence these countries are source countries for cocaine. Cocaine is con-
sumed primarily in Europe and North America, which are destination places. Much
of the cocaine transported into Europe goes through Brazil and then into Morocco
and other countries in northwestern Africa. Hence these countries can be regarded
as transit countries with respect to cocaine.
Trafficking has a tremendous impact on the global economy. The overall value
of trafficking has been estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide every
year. The human impact of trafficking is also staggering. Although precise estimates
are lacking, at least 20 million people around the world live as slaves, and millions
more are forced laborers or have been forced into prostitution. Women, children,
members of ethnic minority groups, and marginalized persons are especially vul-
nerable to trafficking.
Millions upon millions of dollars are spent by governments throughout the world
to combat trafficking. However, trafficking is a major source of income for large
numbers of persons, many of whom are associated with organized crime or drug
cartels. In some cases, profits used from trafficking are used for political purposes.
Financing to support the activities of warlords and guerilla armies in many parts of