Tobacco Underground - cigarette smuggling, 6-part series..

July 1, 2009 - China leads the world in contraband cigarette production, with Paraguay and Ukraine also fueling billion-dollar black markets, according to a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a project of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.

As delegates from nearly 160 countries meet in Geneva this week to negotiate a global protocol to crack down on tobacco smuggling, the new ICIJ series also reveals that terrorist groups are increasingly turning to cigarette smuggling for financing. At least a half-dozen terrorist groups rely on tobacco black markets, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Real IRA, and the Colombian FARC, the project reports.

Terrorist financing through cigarette smuggling is “huge,” says criminologist Louise Shelley, an advisor to the World Economic Forum on illicit trade. “Worldwide — it’s no exaggeration. No one thinks cigarette smuggling is too serious, so law enforcement doesn’t spend resources to go after it.”

The six-part series is part of Tobacco Underground, a year-long investigation by ICIJ into cigarette smuggling — featuring interactive maps, undercover video, online interviews with experts, and links to groups and documents worldwide.

China - iIllicit cigarette operations..

Paraquay - top producer of contraband tobacco..

Smuggled Cigarettes Give Boost To Pakistani Militants..

Reference: Tobacco, Terrorism, and Illicit Trade, Source: Center for Public Integrity, Docuticker, 6/1/2009.