12 Most illegal Business in the World that will Fetch You Millions

In our world today, illegal business trades are no longer kept too secret as they were before. There are a number of illegal business activities being done in every part of the world on a daily basis.

Top Most Profitable illegal business in the World

The underground economy, as it is referred to by economic experts, is one of the most profitable ventures in the world. Despite its huge risks, the illegal businesses seem to be paying fatter paychecks than some of the most profitable legal businesses worldwide. One of the most widely illegal trade practices in the world is drug trafficking.

The illegal drug trade alone attracts more than $600 billion in profit annually, according to the United Nations Corporation on Drug and Crime. These underground business activities have always stood as a major economic challenge for the various governments affected, and their environment as well. However, despite all these, the illegal trade business is still expanding at an alarming rate by the day.

Here, we have put together a list of 12 of the most illegal business around the world.

12. Wildlife Trafficking/Poaching

Wildlife Trafficking/Poaching
Wildlife Trafficking


A lot of animal species today are considered endangered because of the level of poaching activities that are done every day all around the world.

These animals are hunted down and killed mostly for their fur, traditional medicines, meat, horns, tusks, and exotic pets. The illegal wildlife industry is estimated to be worth at least $5 billion annually, according to the Congressional Research Service. Rhinos, in particular, were hunted exclusively for their horns, which is really expensive in the black market.

It is reported that the root of this industry is in Southeast Asia, where poachers and middlemen operate in countries like Laos and Thailand.

11. illegal oil trade

illegal oil trade
illegal oil trade| Image Credit: Farsnews


The oil industry is one of the biggest in the world, producing billions of dollars every day. But the industry is suffering from heavy theft and smuggling. It was reported that more than 100,000 barrels of oil are smuggled out from various parts of the world every day. This has caused major economic problems for the affected countries, mostly African and Asian countries.

In Mexico, about $700 million dollars is lost annually when oil thieves tap into their pipelines. Also, it is reported that on the coast of Somalia, a large part of the oil is attacked by sea pirates yearly. The illegal oil industry is estimated to make more than $15 billion every year.

The value of the illegal fuel trade in Southeast Asia ranges from $2 to $10 billion a year.

10. Illegal Art Trade

Illegal Art Trade
Illegal Art Trade


The Art theft illegal business is very lucrative if you consider the huge sum the stolen arts will be sold, either at auctions or to private collectors known as Fences. However, stealing a priceless piece of art is not all that easy as you see them in the movies. Most of these arts are heavily protected, or else you’ve got some oceans eight tricks up your sleeve, most of the very expensive arts are far from the reach of ordinary people. [Also Read: 16 Most Richest Drug Dealers of all Time]

9. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing


Any fishing activity that is Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated is considered as illegal fish trade. It happens when fishing vessels operate by violating laws that are defined by the local and central government. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, illegal fishing causes a loss of about $23 billion per year. In the world today, Indonesia accounts for more than 30% of illegal fishing. [Also, Read: 10 Most Expensive Cars in The World]

8. Illegal Mining

Illegal Mining

Illegal Mining


Mining activities are extremely dangerous even though they are allowed by the authorities. But all mining activities that happen without the permission, or mining licensing, and in the absence of land rights are considered illegal. [Also, Read: 20 Netflix Original Movies You Need To Watch]

However, when global mineral prices are soaring up, the illegal extraction of natural resources begins to press hard. Illegal mining could be done by an organized group of criminals or it can just be the case with artisanal mining.

7. Organ trade

Organ trade,
Organ trade


All over the world, there are people who are tricked and lured into selling their body parts, especially kidneys for a fraction of the actual price, which is then resold to rich and desperate people in dire need for these parts to survive.

The business seems to be thriving in some parts of Asia and South America. In places like India and Brazil, a handful of human organs are harvested from living people every day, some get paid peanuts for their parts, while others were actually abducted and forcefully operated on. [Also, Read: 25 Business Ideas That Will Make You a Millionaire]

The harvested parts are then resold to recipients in places like the US or Australia. The business is said to be generating an average $1 billion annually.

6. Illegal Arms Deal

Illegal Arms Deal, most illegal business in the world
Illegal Arms Deal


Countries who produce weapons make a ton of cash by selling these weapons to other countries to help boost the economy of their own country. But what happens when a single individual or a small group of 5, maybe 3 men get their hands on these weapons and sells them in the black market? They become stinking billionaires. [Also, Read Top 10 Most Valuable Brands in the World by Forbes]

Weapons like the AK-47, grenade launchers and other arms have been in circulation illegally, been sold off by private organizations who obtain these weapons from countries that produce them such as Russia and Australia, and are sold almost exclusively at heavy prices to developing nations who need these weapons.

5. Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking, most illegal business in the world


Since the era of the slave trade to date, humans have been trafficked in thousands, and the numbers keep going up by the day. The business is considered one of the worst crimes in the world. Though this illegal business is booming by the day, and the numbers are rising, people who are affected by this inhuman activity have the hardest lives. Some are forcefully taken into sexual slavery and abuse. Most of the human slaves trafficked are brought from India, China, and Colombia. [Also Read: 15 Most Isolated Places In The World]

4. Illegal Diamonds

If you google how much does a 1-carat diamond cost, you will find out that diamonds aren’t cheap. These precious stones are sourced from places like Ivory Coast, Angola and Sierra Leone. Diamonds have been in the black market for a really long time, and countries like the US and UAE continue to buy them despite the constant improvement in their certification processes.

3. Bootlegging

Bootlegging, most illegal business in the world
Bootlegging | Image Credit: Medium

For simplicity, bootlegging is a term used to describe an illegal business that has to do with the illegal transportation of alcohol. One of the earliest recorded cases of alcohol smuggling was recorded during the American Civil War when cheap Carribean rum was smuggled by ships into the United States through Florida.  [Also, Read: 15 Famous Movie Stars that went Broke]

The business is estimated to generate over $4 billion annually. This illegal business is done in many countries today by organized criminals. They trade alcohol secretly in order to avoid paying taxes and minimum purchase price. Reports have it that, the government of the United Kingdom failed to collect $2 billion tax revenue due to illegally smuggled alcohol activities.

2. Illegal Timber

Illegal Timber, most illegal business in the world
Illegal Timber | Image Credit: The Straits Times

Illegal logging business is still thriving today, despite claims of preserving the Amazon. Every day, thousands of trees are chopped down illegally. These unregulated and illegal logging activities are mostly done in Brazil and Peru. Globally, this activity constitutes about 30% of the timber trades done across the world. Although this illegal practice pays, it destroys the environment and increases global warming.  [Also Read: Game of Thrones: HBO Forgot That Jaime Has no Hand]

1. Counterfeits Products

Counterfeits Products
Image Credit: Washington Examiner

Counterfeits are any produced replica of a product that is unauthorized. They are clone copies of the original. Counterfeit products go from clothes, shoes, electronic products, arts, movies, and even company names or logos. The market of counterfeit goods is estimated to cross more than $250 billion worldwide, this is according to 2007 OECD reports. [Also, Read: 15 Famous Movie Stars that went Broke]

The industry attracts a lot of concern in developing countries because it is one of the major problems they experience. And the worst of all is currency counterfeiting. People engaged in this act have made billions of counterfeiting currencies and exchange them for other currencies, which are original.

What Do you think about our list of the 12 Most illegal Business in the World? We would love to hear from you in the comment section

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