Iran is producing the lion share of saffron, the most precious spice, worldwide. One kilogram of saffron requires weeks of backbreaking work and the manual processing of around 170,000 flowers. Smuggling of what is also called “Red Gold”, and fraudulent and counterfeit saffron, are now million-dollar endeavors, as revealed by Europol and other investigations. From illegal food dyes like lead chromate, to herbs, to corn-on-the-cob strings, saffron is adulterated in many ways to enable fraudsters a participation in this $500 million market.
European law enforcement worked across several European countries to discover a vast glass eel smuggling operation worth $1.5 million. Glass eels are wild baby eels, which are becoming increasingly rare. Glass eels are highly priced in Asian markets, for example for aquaculture farms. Smuggling these protected species is a lucrative business in Europe, since it is illegal to export eels. This is just the tip of the iceberg: The glass eel trafficking business is estimated to have grown to more than $3 billion in size over the past few years.
For more than 40 years, a syndicate of bribed government and custom officials and slaughterhouses did lucrative business by smuggling fake halal meat into Malaysia. The meat originated in unapproved slaughterhouses in several countries that produced not halal-certified and low-grade meat from a variety of animals. This scandal was a setback on Malaysia’s goal to become one of the world’s main halal meat exporters, which is a multi-billion dollar business.
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