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White Paper: Hubs of Illicit Trade (HIT)

In collaboration with the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center (TraCCC) at George Mason University and the Anti-Illicit Trade Institute (AITI), TRAC embarked on a groundbreaking project known as the "Hubs of Illicit Trade" (HIT). This initiative sought to address the question: Why have hubs of illicit trade become an increasing security concern on the global stage?


Illicit trade, though often underestimated, takes a significant toll on humanity, economies, societies, the environment, and security. In response to these challenges, the HIT project produced a comprehensive white paper titled "Internationalizing the Fight against Hubs of Illicit Trade (HITs) and Criminalized Markets." This white paper represents a collaborative effort led by Dr. Louise I. Shelley, Director of TraCCC, David M. Luna, Co-Director of AITI, and Judy Deane, Deputy Director of TraCCC.


The white paper serves as a valuable policy brief, offering a series of recommendations based on rigorous, evidence-based research, which focuses on evaluating the threats associated with these hubs, their impacts, and common themes. These findings were drawn from in-depth analyses of regional hubs of illicit trade, including those in Panama, Belize, and Guatemala in Central America, the Tri-Border Area encompassing Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay in South America, Dubai in the UAE, and Ukraine in Eastern Europe.


This document is intended for policy-makers, providing them with insights into how to combat the escalating threats posed by these hubs. The impacts are magnified by the convergence of criminal activities, as perpetrators exploit shared trade routes, transportation methods, nodes of corruption, and opportunistic networks to move illicit goods and contraband. For example, the trafficking of counterfeit goods often intersects with other criminal enterprises that traverse borders, such as the drug trade, weapons trafficking, wildlife smuggling, natural resource plundering, forced labour, human trafficking, and other criminal activities, collectively generating vast wealth for criminal entrepreneurs.


In the section of the white paper addressing the Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay Tri-Border Area (TBA) in South America, TRAC's co-founders, Dr. Rashmi Singh and Dr. Jorge Lasmar, provide valuable insights into the region's status as a significant hub for illicit trade. Their analysis helps illuminate the complex challenges of this area, underscoring the urgent need for a concerted global effort to combat the multifaceted threats arising from the convergence of criminal enterprises.


The "Hubs of Illicit Trade" project is a testament to the collective dedication of TRAC, TraCCC, and AITI in advancing research and understanding in the critical fields of terrorism, organized crime, and illicit trade, with the goal of bolstering global security and stability.


Hubs of Illicit Trade (HIT) - Paper
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