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International Crime Threat Assessment
Fact Sheet Released by The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Washington, DC, December 18, 2000

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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 worldwide basis.

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 parts:

-- PART I, the Global Context of International Crime, identifies those factors that have contributed to the growing problem of international crime.

-- 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 years ago.

-- Trafficking in arms and diamonds fuels insurgencies and threatens regional stability.

-- 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 Yugoslavia.

-- 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 national infrastructures.

-- 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.

[end of document]

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