Criminal gangs raked in up to $258 billion last year from illegal logging, mining, poaching and other environmentally destructive trade last year, the UN said in a report published today.
The scale of crimes ranged from illegal gold mining by drug cartels in Columbia to pillaging forests by rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo was expanding three times faster than the global economy, the study by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol found.
"Environmental crime is growing at an alarming pace," Interpol secretary general Juergen Stock said in a statement.
It added that international agencies had spent $20-30 million, on fighting environmentally damaging crime, which was just a fraction of its estimated value of $91-258 billion.
The report added that trafficking products from endangered wildlife, including tusks harvested from the decimation of one quarter of the world's elephant population over the last decade, was worth around $7 to $23 billion a year.
Highlighting the mismatch between poachers' profits and government measures to fight them, ivory traffickers in Tanzania reaped five times the size of the country's wildlife budget, or an estimated $10.5 million per year, it said.
According to data, an average 3,000 elephants were killed per year in Tanzania over the last decade.
Meanwhile, Glasgow will this week, host Interpol's environmental compliance and enforcement committee advisory board and its pollution crime working group.
The workshop will see the participation of senior officials and decision-makers from all 190 Interpol member countries, who offer strategic advice on relevant issues and harness global support. A series of events would be held with both groups in attendance.
Senior law enforcement and environmental regulators from over 30 countries, would consider ways to build capacity and capability to tackle environmental crime, in the areas of wildlife, illegal logging, fisheries, pollution and trans-frontier shipment of waste.