The drug trade was the first illicit sector to maximize profits in a globalized world. But as the market for drugs became more competitive and the international response to it increased, profits were reduced through competition and enhanced risk. Many other forms of crime have therefore expanded as criminals exploited the possibilities of global trade. These crimes include human trafficking and smuggling; trafficking in arms, endangered species, art, and antiquities; illegal dumping of hazardous waste; and counterfeiting and credit card frauds.
Money laundering has occurred on a mass scale because the financial system can move money rapidly through bank accounts in several countries in a short period. A transaction that might take only one hour to complete and involve banks in three different countries will take law enforcement more than a year to untangle – if they have the full cooperation of law enforcement and banks in each of these countries. With the increase in offshore banking, criminals are able to hide their money in these global safe havens without any fear of law enforcement. Moreover, banks often do not perform more than nominal due diligence.
Global criminal activity has been facilitated by the possibility of speedy and secure communication. Child pornography has spread because the Internet makes it possible to distribute pornography anonymously through Web sites. Material can be produced in one country and distributed in another by means of the Web, e- mail, and an international financial system that facilitates wire transfers. Drug traffickers can use encryption to provide security for their messages concerning their business operations. Informal financial transfers can be made without a trace, aided by instant messages on computers, and wire transfers made by fax or computer to offshore locales place massive amounts of funds outside of any state regulation.