, also known as
, is the clandestine transportation of
goods or persons past a point where prohibited, such as out of a
building, into a prison
, or across an
, in violation of
or other regulations.
There are various motivations to smuggle. These include the
participation in illegal trade, such as drugs
, illegal immigration
, tax evasion
to a prison inmate, or the
of the items being smuggled. Examples of
non-financial motivations include bringing banned items past a
security checkpoint (such as airline
) or the removal of classified document
from a government
or corporate office.
On June 3,
2009 near Chiasso,
Switzerland (near the Swiss/Italian border), Italian customs
and financial police (Guardia di
Finanza) detained two apparent Japanese nationals who had
attempted to enter Switzerland and had in their possession a
suitcase with a false bottom containing U.S. Treasury Bonds
. After an initial assessment by law
enforcement, the bonds were determined to be counterfeit
; had the treasury bonds been
genuine, this case would have been regarded as the largest single
act of smuggling (with respect to financial value) in recorded
The word probably comes from the Proto-Germanic
(Old Norse smjúga
) = "to creep
into a hole/To slip through". Other sources say it comes from the word
smooky (fog) which was used in West Flanders.
Smuggling has a long and controversial history, probably dating
back to the first time at which duties were imposed in any
In Britain, wool was smuggled to the continent from late 16th
century and smuggling became economically significant at the end of
the 17th century, under the pressure of high excise taxes
. In 1724 Smuggler
Prakash wrote of Lymington, Hampshire, on the south coast of England
"I do not find they have any foreign commerce, except
it be what we call smuggling and roguing; which I may say, is the
reigning commerce of all this part of the English coast, from the
mouth of the Thames to the Land's End in Cornwall."
The high rates of duty levied on tea and also wine and spirits, and
other luxury goods coming in from mainland Europe
at this time made the clandestine import of
such goods and the evasion of the duty a highly profitable venture
for impoverished fishermen and seafarers. In certain parts of
the country such as the Romney Marsh,
Kent, Cornwall and East
Cleveland, the smuggling industry was for many communities
more economically significant than legal activities such as farming
The principal reason for the high duty was the
need for the government to finance a number of extremely expensive
with France and the United States.
Before the era of sordid drug smuggling and human trafficking,
smuggling had acquired a kind of nostalgic romanticism, in the vein
of Robert Louis Stevenson
"Few places on the British coast did not claim to be
the haunts of wreckers or mooncussers.
The thievery was boasted about and romanticized until
it seemed a kind of heroism.
It did not have any taint of criminality and the whole
of the south coast had pockets vying with one another over whose
smugglers were the darkest or most daring.
The Smugglers Inn was one of the commonest
names for a bar on the coast".
Road, smuggling in colonial times was a reaction
to the heavy taxes and regulations imposed by mercantilist trade
policies. After American
independence in 1783, smuggling developed at the edges of the
United States at places like Passamaquoddy Bay, St. Mary's in Georgia, Lake
's embargo of
, these same places became the primary places where
goods were smuggled out of the nation in defiance of the law.
Britain, a gradual liberalization of trade laws as part of the
free trade movement meant less smuggling.
in 1907 President Theodore
Roosevelt tried to cut down on smuggling by establishing the
Reservation along the United States-Mexico
Smuggling revived in the 1920s during Prohibition
, and drug
smuggling became a major problem after 1970. In the 1990'es, when
economic sanctions were imposed on Serbia, a large
percent of the population lived off smuggling petrol and consumer
goods from neighboring countries.
The state unofficially
allowed this to continue or otherwise the entire economy would have
In modern times, as many first-world
have struggled to contain a rising influx of
immigrants, the smuggling of people across national borders has
become a lucrative extra-legal activity, as well as the extremely
dark side, people-trafficking, especially of women who may be
enslaved typically as prostitutes.
Smuggled goods and people
Much smuggling occurs when enterprising merchants attempt to supply
demand for a good or service which is illegal. As a result, illegal
, and the smuggling
(illegal arms trade
), as well as the
historical staples of smuggling, alcohol
, are widespread. As the smuggler faces
significant risk of civil and criminal penalties if caught with
contraband, smugglers are able to impose a significant price
premium on smuggled goods. The profits involved in smuggling goods
appears to be extensive.
Profits also derive from avoiding taxes or levies on imported
goods. For example, a smuggler might purchase a large quantity of
in a place with low taxes and
smuggle them into a place with higher taxes, where they can be sold
at a far higher margin than would otherwise be possible.
been reported that smuggling one truckload of cigarettes within the
States can lead to a profit of US$2 million.
With regard to people smuggling
distinction can be made between people smuggling as a service to
those wanting to illegally migrate, and the involuntary trafficking of people
estimated 90% of people who illegally crossed the border between
Mexico and the
United States are believed to have paid a smuggler to lead them
across the border.
People smuggling can also be used to rescue a person from
oppressive circumstances. For example, when the Southern United States
, many slaves moved north via the
Similarly, during The Holocaust, Jewish
peoples were smuggled out of Germany by people such as Algoth
Trafficking in human beings, sometimes called human trafficking
, or in the much
referred to case of sexual services, sex
- is not the same as people smuggling. A
smuggler will facilitate illegal entry into a country for a fee,
but on arrival at their destination, the smuggled person is free;
the trafficking victim is coerced in some way. Victims do not agree
to be trafficked: they are tricked, lured by false promises, or
forced into it. Traffickers use coercive tactics including deception
, physical threats and use of force,
or even force-feeding
drugs to control their victims.
While the majority of victims are women , and sometimes children,
other victims include men, women and children forced or conned into
manual or cheap labor. Due to the illegal nature of trafficking,
the exact extent is unknown. A US Government report published in
2003, estimates that 800,000-900,000 people worldwide are
trafficked across borders each year. This figure does not include
those who are trafficked internally.
to a study by Alternatives to Combat Child Labour Through Education
and Sustainable Services in the Middle East and North Africa Region
(ACCESS-MENA) 30% of school children living in border villages of
Yemen had been smuggled into Saudi Arabia.
Smuggled children were in danger of being
or even killed.
is one of the reasons behind child
trafficking and some children are smuggled with their parents'
consent. As many as 50% of those smuggled are children.
Human trafficking and migration
Each year, hundreds of thousands of migrants are moved illegally by
highly organized international smuggling and trafficking groups
often in dangerous or inhumane conditions. This phenomenon has been
growing in recent years as people of low income countries
are aspiring to
enter developed countries
search of job. Migrant smuggling and human trafficking are two
separate offences and differ in a few central respects. While
"smuggling" refers to facilitating the illegal entry of a person
into a State, "trafficking" includes an element of exploitation
The trafficker retains control over the migrant—through force,
fraud or coercion—typically in the sex industry, through forced
labour or through other practices similar to slavery. Trafficking
violates the idea of basic human
. The overwhelming majority of those trafficked are women
and children. These victims are commodities in a multi-billion
dollar global industry. Criminal
are choosing to traffic human beings because,
unlike other commodities, people can be used repeatedly and because
trafficking requires little in terms of capital investment.
Smuggling is also reaping huge financial dividends to criminal
groups who charge migrants massive fees for their services.
Intelligence reports have noted that drug-traffickers and other
criminal organizations are switching to human cargo to obtain
greater profit with less risk.
It is acknowledged that the smuggling of people is a growing global
phenomenon . It is not only a transnational crime, but also an
enormous violation of human rights and a contemporary form of
slavery. Currently, economic instability appears to be the main
reason for illegal migration movement throughout the world.
Nevertheless, many of the willing migrants undertake the hazardous
travel to their destination country with criminal syndicates
specialised in people smuggling. These syndicates arrange
everything for the migrants, but at a high price.
Very often the travelling conditions are inhumane: the migrants are
overcrowded in trucks or boats and fatal accidents occur
frequently. After their arrival in the destination country, their
illegal status puts them at the mercy of their smugglers, which
often force the migrants to work for years in the illegal labour
market to pay off the debts incurred as a result of their
Economics of smuggling
Research on smuggling as economic phenomenon is scanty. Jagdish Bhagwati
and Bent Hansen first
forwarded a theory of smuggling in which they saw smuggling
essentially as an import-substituting economic activity. Their main
consideration, however, was the welfare implications of smuggling.
Against common belief that the private
is more efficient than the public sector
, they showed that, smuggling
might not enhance social welfare though it may divert resources
from government to private sector.
In contrast, Faizul Latif
, in 1999, suggested a production-substituting model
of smuggling in which price disparity due to cost of supply is
critically important as an incentive for smuggling. This price
disparity is caused by domestic consumption taxes as well as import
duties. Drawing attention to the case of cigarettes,
Chowdhury suggested that, in Bangladesh, smuggling of
cigarettes reduced the level of domestic production.
Domestic production of cigarettes is subject to value added tax
(VAT) and other consumption tax
. Reduction of domestic taxes
enables the local producer to supply at a lower cost and bring down
the price disparity that encourages smuggling.
However, Chowdhury suggested that there is a limit beyond which
reducing domestic taxes on production cannot confer a competitive
advantage versus smuggled cigarettes. Therefore, government needs
to upscale its anti-smuggling drive so that seizures can add to the
cost of smuggling and thus render smuggling uncompetitive. Notably,
Chowdhury modelled the relationship of the smuggler to the local
producer as one of antagonistic duopoly
With regard to crossing borders we can distinguish concealment
of the whole transport or
concealment of just the smuggled goods:
- Avoiding border checks, such as by small ships, private
airplane, through overland
smuggling routes, smuggling tunnels
and even small submersibles. This also applies for illegally
passing a border oneself, for illegal immigration or illegal
emigration. In many parts of the world, particularly the
Mexico, the smuggling vessel of choice is the go-fast boat.
- Submitting to border checks with
the goods or people hidden in a vehicle or between (other)
merchandise, or the goods hidden in luggage, in or under clothes,
inside the body (see body cavity
search, balloon swallower and
mule ), etc. Many smugglers fly on
regularly scheduled airlines. A large
number of suspected smugglers are caught each year by customs worldwide. Goods and people are also
smuggled across seas hidden in container, and overland hidden in cars,
trucks, and trains. A related topic is illegally passing a border
oneself as a stowaway. The high level of
duty levied on alcohol and tobacco
in Britain has led to large-scale smuggling from France to the UK
through the Channel
- The combination of acknowledged corruption at the border and
high import tariffs led smugglers in the 1970s and ‘80s to fly
electronic equipment such as stereos and televisions in cargo
planes from one country to clandestine landing strips in another,
thereby circumventing encounters at the frontier between
For illegally passing a border oneself, another method is with a
(completely fake, or
illegally changed, or the passport of a lookalike).
The existence of the Multi-Consignment Contraband (MCC) smuggling
method (smuggling two or more different types of contraband such as
drugs and illegal immigrants or drugs and guns at the same time)
was verified following the completion of a study that found 16
documented cases of smuggglers transporting more than one type of
contraband in the same shipment. MCC shipments were frequently
associated with Phase II and Phase III smuggling organizations
In popular perception smuggling is synonymous as illegal trade.
Even social scientists
misconstrued smuggling as illegal trade. While the two have indeed
identical objectives, namely the evasion of taxes and the
importation of contraband items, their demand and cost functions
are altogether different requiring different analytical framework.
As a result, illegal trade through customs stations
considered, and smuggling is defined as international trade
‘unauthorized route’. A seaport, airport or land port which has not
been authorized by the government for importation and exportation
is an ‘unauthorized route’. The legal definition of these occurs in
the Customs Act
of the country. Notably,
some definitions define any 'undeclared' trafficking of currency
and precious metal as smuggling. Smuggling is a cognizable offense
in which both the
smuggled goods and the goods are punishable.
- Joshua M. Smith, Borderland Smuggling: Patriots, Loyalists
and Illicit Trade in the Northeast, 1783–1820 (Gainesville,
University Press of Florida, 2006). ISBN 0813029864.
- Mary Waugh, Smuggling in Kent and Sussex 1700–1840
(Countryside Books, 1985, updated 2003). ISBN 0905392485.
- Organizations working against Trafficking: