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Human trafficking in Southeast Asia now a global crisis, Interpol says – National


Organized crime rings who fueled an “explosion” of human trafficking and cyber scam centers during the pandemic have expanded from Southeast Asia into a global network making up to US$3 trillion a year, the head of Interpol said on Wednesday.

“Driven by online anonymity, inspired by new business models and accelerated by COVID, these organized crime groups are now working at a scale that was unimaginable a decade ago,” Interpol secretary-general Jurgen Stock told a briefing at the global police coordination body’s Singapore office.

“What began as a regional crime threat in Southeast Asia has become a global human trafficking crisis, with millions of victims, both in the cyber scam centers and as targets.”

The new cyber-scam centers, often staffed by unwilling staff trafficked with the promise of legitimate jobs, had helped organized crime groups diversify their revenue from drug trafficking, Stock said.

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Peterborough area organizations report rise in human trafficking cases

Drug trafficking businesses still contributed 40 to 70 per cent of criminal groups’ income, he said.

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“But we see groups clearly diversifying their criminal businesses using drug trafficking routes also for trafficking of human beings, trafficking of arms, intellectual property, stolen products, car theft,” Stock said.

About US$2 trillion to US$3 trillion in illicit proceeds are channeled through the global financial system annually, he said, adding that an organized crime group can make US$50 billion a year.

The United Nations said last year that more than 100,000 people had been trafficked into online scam centers in Cambodia. In November, Myanmar handed over thousands of fugitive Chinese telecom fraud suspects to China.

A Reuters investigation last year detailed the emergence in Thailand of one branch of such alleged cyber-crime and its financing.

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Stock praised Singapore for its success in uncovering a money laundering case last year involving seized assets amounting to over US$2.23 billion.

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