Overview of Organized crime in Africa

International criminal organizations continue to target Africa because of the significant illicit wealth that can be generated, stemming from criminal market opportunities that exploit various social and political vulnerabilities, state fragility, and limited policing capacities present on the continent. International criminal organizations or networks operate everywhere in Africa via key facilitators and bring together a significant array of crime syndicates and street gangs that provide illicit goods and services.

Crime syndicates remain highly connected across borders and are active in a number of illicit markets, notably drug trafficking, human trafficking and people smuggling, environmental crimes, financial crimes, counterfeited goods, works of art trafficking, stolen motor vehicles trafficking and maritime piracy. In addition, there are enabling crimes such as cybercrime, and the trade in small arms and light weapons that are supporting organized criminality throughout the continent which overlap with all of the illicit markets noted in complex ways. Organized crime in Africa generates huge profits for all involved, and there are substantial illicit interregional financial flows and illicit profits moving throughout the continent and often heading offshore. Money laundering relating to all criminal market activities is occurring on a global scale.

The threat from organized crime in Africa is substantial, yet there is limited capacity amongst law enforcement to manage this complex issue at a national, regional and continental level. Organized crime is going under-reported and undetected, but various data sources reveal the following major activities and dynamics of groups and networks, which need to be addressed strategically, through building greater partnerships amongst all law enforcement agencies everywhere on the continent.

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