ICAIE's "The Dark Forces Of Illicit Trade

Opening Remarks by

David M. Luna

Executive Director

International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE)

Washington, DC (and globally on-line)

10 November 2021


Good Morning Everyone!


Thank you for joining us this morning for the ICAIE “The Dark Forces of Illicit Trade” Dialogue.


My name is David Luna, and I am the Executive Director of the International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE).


I am joined by Josh Potter, a distinguished and decorated Veteran, and ICAIE’s Deputy Executive Director who will co-moderate today’s program.


ICAIE promotes private-public partnerships to solve the scourge of illicit markets and criminal syndicates on a global scale. We detect widespread malfeasance mechanisms and advocate for transparent economies and reducing hybrid threats which prey upon the vulnerable populations of our society. Our strategic interests are to counter illicit trade practices, counterfeit merchandise and drugs, weapons smuggling, human trafficking networks, environmental and wildlife crime, narcotics production and distribution, money laundering and corrupt practices and other forms of criminal behavior which rip the fabric of our global society.


As a partner of United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT), ICAIE is honored to host today’s dialogue on illegal trade and its nexus to other crimes, and ways to strengthen cross-border cooperation to tackle the array of converging security threats that impact U.S. national security, the American economy, and the public health and safety of citizens and communities in the United States, and globally.

While globalization has ushered in an array of innovation and modern technologies that have enabled greater prosperity and economic development in many parts of the world, sinister forces of the global economy are fueling greater insecurity and instability around the world.


Today, this darker side of globalization is thriving at an estimated $2.2 trillion in illicit commerce across numerous illicit markets, all in the billions of dollars every year.


Greed crimes and criminal diversification are so lucrative that kleptocrats, transnational criminal organizations, and terrorists are financing their illicit operations and fueling corruption, violence, and terrorist attacks that imperil the rule of law, democracy, and threaten our collective security.


Some of the world’s most insidious criminal and terrorist groups, including the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), Sinaloa Cartel, Chinese criminal syndicates, the Russian mayifa, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Venezuela’s corrupt ruling elite, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other threat networks bad actors profit from criminal activities.


But equally destructive are other illicit actors across illicit-licit pathways including state-sponsored thugs, gatekeepers, complicit facilitators (lawyers, accountants, art dealers, real estate agents, trust companies), and dirty-dealing businesses in some markets.


In times of pandemic recovery, illicit trade is also siphoning capital and human resources away from legitimate economic activity, law enforcement responses, and the implementation of national sustainable development goals.


Unfortunately, the problem of illegal trade cannot be solved by any one government, agency, or company working alone.


We must not only strengthen political will in illicit environments to counter illicit trade, but we must confiscate the criminally-derived proceeds of bad actors and threat networks, promote information-sharing and coordinated actionable intelligence and enforcement actions, and develop more innovative and smarter supply chain and risk management solutions.


This is why the International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE) is committed to strengthening public-private partnerships and implementing a multi-dimensional framework that targets illegal trade more holistically in source, transit, and demand markets.


In short, the best way to combat illicit trade, is through trust, enforcement, and collective action across borders.

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