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A Link between Counterfeiting and Terrorism

By James R. Tourtellotte, U.S. Customs and Border Protection - CBP Officers - Cargo and Seaport Image Library (file cs_5fphoto21_5fhires.jpg), Public Domain, https://c

Resulting costs to business of counterfeit and pirated products could reach an estimated US$ 1.7 trillion worldwide by 2020. Moreover, 2.5 million jobs have been lost as a direct result of fake goods (Fig.ICC). Counterfeiting affects almost all sectors of the economy, from pharmaceuticals to food products. Of course, this trafficking is greatly facilitated by the Internet. Medicines account for the biggest share of counterfeit products seized by european customs. An estimated 10 to 30% of medicines sold in developing countries are counterfeit and represent a value market of US$ 200 billion (Fig.HRF 2014). Criminal organisations quickly realized that it was a very profitable business with a limited risk of incurring criminal penalties. A striking finding of a recent study underlined that US$ 1,000 invested in the trafficking of counterfeit cigarettes would guarantee a return of US$ 43,000 compared with a return of US$ 500,000 invested in counterfeit pharmaceuticals! (Fig.IRACM). And it is a fact that the enormous profits generated by counterfeit goods have long attracted terrorist organisations. The IRA, the FARC, the Hezbollah, and today Daech, they all found sources of financing provided by the sale of counterfeit products. Recently, many major companies owners of global brands, particularly in the pharmaceutical, automotive and luxury sectors sounded alarm over this type of organized crime and suggested that the UN should condemn counterfeiting as a method of financing terrorism. However, all the enforcement measures will not be enough to curb counterfeiting. It will be up to each of us to pay more attention to the transactions made on the Internet, especially when food or pharmaceutical products are concerned.

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