“Illicit trade fuels modern slavery. Human trafficking is a highly lucrative line of business for the global criminal network that also engages in the trade of drugs, wildlife, counterfeit products, etc. These criminals reap profit not only from the trading of human beings but also from exploiting the victims to produce, distribute and finance their illicit trade operations.”
A team of Erb Institute students, Junghoon Park, MBA/MS ’22, and Undergraduate Erb Fellows students ‘22 Kelsie Imus, Alyssa Klotz, and Jelena Pejovic, partnered with The Mekong Club for a research project at the nexus between modern slavery and ilicit trade. This research focused on central questions such as: How is modern slavery involved in the value chains of different types of illicit trade operations? Are there similarities within the recruitment, production, distribution, and financial flows of different illicit trades? How has modern technology and COVID-19 impacted the nexus between modern slavery and illicit trade? From laborers who are forced to produce counterfeit products with little to no compensation, to women that are coerced into sexual labor to make money for organized crime groups, the below report identifies that modern slavery can be found in each step of the illicit trade value chains and recommends next actions to take.