10 Biggest Illegal Industries and Black Markets in the World

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If you have ever wondered how much do some criminals earn, these are the 10 biggest illegal industries and black markets in the world.




By definition, a black market is characterized by non-compliant behavior with an institutional set of rules or in this case, production and distribution of goods prohibited by law. Anyone who engages in the production and distribution of these goods is a member of the illegal economy such as prostitution, drug trade, etc. As usual, money makes the world go ’round, and so illegal businesses flourish as people rush to make money fast. Speaking of money, here are some of the best illegal hustles to make money fast.

10 Biggest Illegal Industries and Black Markets in the World

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Countless criminal enterprises earn billions of dollars buying and selling illicit goods on the black market. We can only assume the size and scope of such industries, but one thing is certain, they are extremely profitable. Believe it or not, buying and selling art is one of the biggest illegal industries in the world as well and so is human trafficking. In fact, human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world which is a devastating fact. What’s worse, the industry continues to grow, and it doesn’t seem that it’s going to stop in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, not enough is being done to put an end to this horrible illegal trade and modern slavery.



Whatever report you may read, the drug trade is listed as the largest criminal industry in the world. Much like human trafficking, drug trafficking also involves despicable violence and murders, the kind we wrote about in 6 Facts About Tijuana Drug Cartel Violence: Kidnappings and Killings.

It’s impossible to be precise when you have to rely on estimations, but some rough numbers can be obtained. This is important to bear in mind when reading our list as well as any other. When trying to come by on numbers this illegal business generates, researchers rely on the quantity of drug seized and combine it with the price of that drug in the market where they think it was heading. Even though it is impossible to determine the exact numbers, it is pretty easy to conclude that it is the most profitable illicit industry which generates hundreds of billions every year.

With the help of The Economist and Forbes, we compiled a list of biggest illegal industries and black markets, and we ranked them according to the amount of money they generate annually. We present to you 10 biggest illegal industries and black markets in the world.


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