What are the Different Types of Illegal Trafficking?

Norma Jean Howland

Illegal trafficking usually refers to the smuggling of drugs, human beings or weapons across borders. One of the more prevalent forms of this involves the transporting of illegal drugs, which are sold in many places around the world. The illegal transport of weapons from country to country is also a problem that often has far reaching consequences. Sometimes even human beings, often young women, are involved in sex trafficking or smuggled in for prostitution or forced labor. Trafficking may also involve the transporting of legal items across borders without using proper channels, usually in order to evade taxes, which is often referred to as “grey market” trafficking.

Illegal goods are sometimes stowed on cargo ships.
Illegal goods are sometimes stowed on cargo ships.

One of the biggest problems in border control usually involves drug trafficking, which may be linked to many other crimes, from prostitution to murder. The smuggling of illegal drugs tends to be a huge business in many parts of the world. Illegal trafficking of drugs takes many routes — by land, sea, or via commercial airlines. Drugs are also sometimes smuggled in by express package carriers transporting drugs such as cocaine, heroine, marijuana, or methamphetamine.

Drug smuggling is one of the more prevalent forms of illegal trafficking.
Drug smuggling is one of the more prevalent forms of illegal trafficking.

The illicit weapons that cross borders are often a cause for concern in many countries since a large percentage of these weapons are small arms or light weapons. These weapons are thought to be responsible for many deaths each year, and unfortunately, they sometimes end up in the hands of terrorists. Since arms smugglers use every imaginable way to get weapons across borders, from hiding them in produce trucks to stowing them on cargo ships, it tends to be a difficult system for authorities to police.

Illegal drugs are often carried across international borders so they can be sold in other parts of the world.
Illegal drugs are often carried across international borders so they can be sold in other parts of the world.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the illegal trafficking of humans, commonly young women destined for the prostitution trade. These girls are often kidnapped or coerced into a life of sexual exploitation. Once the girls are in a foreign country, it may be very difficult to locate them, as this type of illegal trafficking tends to leave few clues as to the whereabouts of the young women. Another type of human trafficking involves forced labor, wherein people are transported illegally and forced to work in sweatshops, or what is sometimes referred to as "modern day slavery."

Sometimes young women are involved in sex trafficking.
Sometimes young women are involved in sex trafficking.

Penalties for illegal trafficking can be severe, depending on what is being smuggled and where the traffickers are arrested. For instance, in many countries the penalty for illegal trafficking of drugs is severe, with some countries handing down the death penalty. Yet, this depends on what part of the world in which the smuggling takes place and what type of drug is involved. Illegal trafficking continues to be a formidable problem in many parts of the world, whether it involves weapons, drugs or human beings.

All types of illegal trafficking can result in arrest.
All types of illegal trafficking can result in arrest.
Some prostitutes are victims of trafficking, or sexual slavery.
Some prostitutes are victims of trafficking, or sexual slavery.
Illegal drugs are smuggled in various ways.
Illegal drugs are smuggled in various ways.
Children who are orphaned are at a high risk of becoming involved in human trafficking.
Children who are orphaned are at a high risk of becoming involved in human trafficking.

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