THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December
International Crime Threat Assessment
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
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
? 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
? 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
? More than 10,000 Americans died as a direct result of drug consumption
? 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
? Each year, by one estimate, approximately $1 trillion is laundered
worldwide; $300-500 billion of that sum is thought to represent proceeds of
? 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 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.
? 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
? Corruption impedes the transitions of some former communist countries
to democracy and free markets.
? Corruption has also contributed to instability ranging from Indonesia
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.
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