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Organized crime: World’s most lucrative criminal activities

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World’s most lucrative criminal activities

Cross-border organized crime is big business, worth about $2.1 trillion per year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), equivalent to 3.5 percent of world GDP in 2009. That's more than six times the world's development aid budget for that year, and equivalent to about 7 percent of global exports of merchandise.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, trafficking illegal drugs is the most lucrative form of illicit business, constituting about half of all proceeds from transnational organized crime. However, plenty of money is also being made from less high-profile enterprises, such as smuggling natural resources such as timber, oil, and gold and other precious metals.

To learn more about this, and other highly profitable criminal activities, read on.

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato with Bianca Schlotterbeck
Posted 12 Aug. 2013