ICAIE Canada Cover Policy Brief 27 Novermber 2023

ICAIE Issues New Policy Brief on The Growing Harms of Cross-Border Illicit Trade Vectors and Threat Convergence to Canada’s National Security: Urgent Attention and Action are Needed 

WASHINGTON, DC, USA November 27, 2023: Today, the International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE), a national security non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC, released a new report entitled, “The Growing Harms of Cross-Border Illicit Trade Vectors and Threat Convergence to Canada’s National Security“, co-authored by Calvin Chrustie and David M. Luna. The ICAIE policy brief and recommendations highlight the increasing national security threats, inclusive of economic ones, posed by illicit trade vectors emanating from within Canada and externally. Such threats have raised heightened awareness among public safety, security and intelligence communities on domestic and foreign illicit activities within Canada, including transnational organized crime and other foreign malign influence activities. Across Canada, criminal networks continue to profit handsomely from an array of illicit activities that are endangering the health and safety of its citizens, and are imperiling the country’s national security, threatening global peace, and financing greater insecurity around the world through the criminality of Mexican cartels, Chinese Triads, Iranian-backed illicit finance networks, and state-sponsored malign influence. 

Canada has become a safe zone for the world’s most notorious crime groups and threat networks. It is not merely a consumer of illicit goods and contraband, but increasingly serves as a hub of illicit trade, production and distribution of illicit goods, an exporter of such contraband, and a money laundering safe haven for a potpourri of bad actors and sinister malign networks. Additionally, these illicit activities have a disrupting and destabilizing impact on Canadian political, governance, security, and business structures.

Illicit trade in Canada, and globally, is booming. Illicit economies come with vulnerabilities to peace and security — including corruption, violence, chaos, organized crime, terrorist financing and instability.  “In a threat convergence world, criminals and threat networks enable and fuel a multi-trillion dollar illegal economy. This includes the smuggling and trafficking of narcotics, opioids, weapons, humans, counterfeit and pirated goods; illegal tobacco and alcohol products; illegally harvested timber, wildlife and fish; pillaged oil, gold, natural resources and precious minerals; and other contraband commodities,” said David M. Luna, ICAIE Executive Director. “Canadian policy makers at the municipal, provincial and federal levels need to recognize the scale of today’s interconnected illicit threats in Canada and take urgent action against the significant harms being done daily by kleptocrats, criminals, terrorist networks and malign influence enablers before communities degrade further into normalized patterns of insecurity, violence, and criminality. “ 

In outlining the report‘s policy recommendations including at The Economist’s Global Anti-Illicit Trade Summit in Ottawa on November 30, ICAIE emphasizes that to effectively fight illicit trade, critical stakeholders must adopt holistic, all-of-society approaches, cross-border cooperation and information-sharing, and more dynamic public-private partnerships. This will strengthen seamless coordination across sectors and enhance disruptions of converging security threats, as well as strengthen the ability to tackle cross-border illicit trade and related threat finance and money laundering.

ICAIE brings together diverse champions across sectors and communities, including governments and prominent organizations from the private sector and civil society to mobilize energies to combat cross-border illicit threats that endanger U.S. national security, global supply chains, and peace.