Security Experts:

Global Organized Crime as Big as a G20 Nation: Australia

SYDNEY  - Organised crime is so big globally that were it a country, it would be part of the G20 group of major economies, the Australian government said Tuesday.

Releasing the Australian Crime Commission's biennial report on the issue, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said organised crime had boomed and grown more complex with the advent of the Internet.

"Organised crime worldwide makes more than US$870 billion every year. That's bigger than the GDP of Indonesia," said Clare.

"If organised crime was a country it would be in the G20," he added.

In Australia, Clare said the problem wiped Aus$15 billion (US$13.7 billion) from the economy every year, with thriving online marketplaces for guns, drugs, identity documents and child pornography. The figure is roughly equivalent to the value of Australia's international student sector to the economy

"Users of illicit drugs no longer have to seek out dealers on the street. They can order the drug of their choice on the net and have it delivered to their door," Clare said.

"This is a real threat that has the potential to grow exponentially."

According to the ACC report, online fraud scams, credit card and account data theft and suburban drug labs were some of the major examples of organised crime in Australia, along with public violence between rival groups.

The ACC said the health system was also been burdened by illicit drug users and money laundering was bankrupting bona fide small businesses.

"Hacktivism", where politically or issues-motivated groups infiltrated official networks to make a "moral or political point", was also a growing concern, the report said. The impacts of organised crime were such that the ACC said it was now one of the top seven national security risks facing Australia.

A UN report published in April estimated the cost of transnational organised crime in East Asia and the Pacific at US$90 billion, with counterfeit goods, illegal wood products, heroin and methamphetamines the top money-spinners.

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