Southeast Asia human trafficking now a global crisis, Interpol says By Reuters

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By Yantoultra Ngui

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Criminal gangs that fueled an “explosion” of human trafficking and smuggling centers during the pandemic have grown from Southeast Asia into a global network that generates $3 trillion a year, Interpol’s chief said on Wednesday.

“Driven by the anonymity of the Internet, driven by new businesses and boosted by COVID, these criminal groups are now operating in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago,” Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock told reporters in Singapore. office.

“What started as a crime threat in Southeast Asia has turned into a global kidnapping problem, with millions of victims, both in online fraud sites and as targets.”

The new cyber-scam environment, which often involves unwilling workers being sold with the promise of legitimate jobs, has helped organized gangs turn their money into drug deals, Stock said.

The drug-trafficking business still contributes 40% to 70% of organized crime’s revenue, he said.

“But we’re seeing gangs clearly diversifying their criminal business through drug and people-trafficking, weapons, intelligence, stolen goods, car theft,” Stock said.

About $2 trillion to $3 trillion in illegal money flows through international funds every year, he said, adding that the criminal organization can make $50 billion a year.

The United Nations reported last year that more than 100,000 people were trafficked in online fraud sites in Cambodia. In November, Myanmar handed over thousands of Chinese nationals suspected of telecom fraud to China.

A Reuters investigation last year detailed the emergence in Thailand of one branch of cyber terrorism and its funding.

Stock praised Singapore for its success in uncovering a money laundering case last year involving more than S$3 billion ($2.23 billion) in confiscated assets.

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