Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future

By Louise I. Shelley


Shelley comprehensively documents the growth and evolution of illicit commerce and the history of efforts to fight it. So far, the robbers have mostly outpaced the cops. The volume of illicit trade—in drugs, in smuggled goods, in human beings—has expanded rapidly over the last three decades as the Internet has made anonymous communication easier, although some of the increase is due to greater awareness and new laws and regulations that sweep up more activities. Most of the wrongdoers are propelled by greed, but some are also driven by a lack of legal ways to make a living. Reducing illicit trade, Shelley concludes, will take more than passing new laws. It will mean restructuring the financial and corporate worlds to improve accountability and transparency and curb destructive environmental practices.