Broadcast on PBS stations across the United States, Illicit: The Dark Trade documents a new kind of global threat and international crime wave: illicit trade in everything from knock-off Prada bags and pirated DVDs to bogus medicines, from dangerous weapons to humans themselves. While smuggling is nothing new, globalization has made it larger and far more ominous. The global value of this "dark trade" is estimated to reach a phenomenal ten percent of the world's trade with its ramifications on economics and politics. It portrays in harrowing detail how fake pharmaceuticals sicken and kill individuals (Bogata, Columbia and Panama City).
A highlight of the film is the analysis of the seemingly limitless reach of the Neapolitan organized crime empire, the Camorra. Known by insiders as 'the System', the Camorra has large stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs and toxic-waste disposal, exerts a malign grip on cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast is the deciding factor in why Campania, for example, has the highest murder rate in all of Europe. The film touches on every aspect of the business: from the contracted Chinese factories where the fake goods or European luxury logos are manufactured, to the distribution and money laundering networks in the Far East, Europe and America, as well as the illegal recruitment of Senegalese immigrants who peddle the ubiquitous knock-offs of French and Italian luxury goods or vintage brand luxury Swiss watches on street corners in Rome, New York and other world capitals. Thus The National Geographic Special reveals how hidden criminal networks cost untold numbers of jobs, kill and maim thousands of people and breed violence and corruption as well as the recent clashes or so-called race riots in southern Italy between the African immigrants and the native Italians, which some insist, notably Italian journalist Roberto Saviano (whose book Gomorrah has sold two million copies in Italy and nearly four million copies worldwide) are also the work of the Camorra.
Illicit: The Dark Trade also focuses on the role technology plays in both enabling and disabling illicit trade, and raises questions about whether authorities have coherent strategies to combat this new phenomenon. The film is based on the bestselling book, Illicit, by Dr. Moisés Naím, acclaimed editor of Foreign Policy magazine. Naím believes illicit trade could be as great—or even greater—a threat to our way of life as terrorism.
And while this film is informative as well as a plea for governments around the world to protect copyrights, patents, and IP, illicit trade could not exist without the voracious appetite of consumers worldwide for these goods.
PBS Television Website
From The Times of London: Roberto Saviano: on the run from the Mafia
Detailed schedule information:
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 at 7:00 pm EST on Thirteen (WNET)
Check PBS Listings for New York and California