How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy

Named by The Washington Post as one of the best nonfiction books of 2005

 “Naím has gathered and sifted an astonishing range of information…Illicit is important reading for anyone struggling with the inadequacies of the “war on terror.” –The Washington Post Book World

A groundbreaking investigation of how illicit commerce is changing the world by transforming economies, reshaping politics, and capturing governments.In this fascinating and comprehensive examination of the underside of globalization, Moises Naím illuminates the struggle between traffickers and the hamstrung bureaucracies trying to control them. From illegal migrants to drugs to weapons to laundered money to counterfeit goods, the black market produces enormous profits that are reinvested to create new businesses, enable terrorists, and even to take over governments. Naím reveals the inner workings of these amazingly efficient international organizations and shows why it is so hard — and so necessary to contain them. Riveting and deeply informed, Illicit will change how you see the world around you.



Chapter after chapter of Illicit documents a world of criminal networks flourishing just as corporate networks do — side by side and often intertwined. Naím has gathered and sifted an astonishing range of information, from Russian financing of Liberian rebels to a $12 billion market in fake (and often dangerous) car parts. Through it all, Naím continually reminds his readers that this is not some distant “underworld,” a dark hidden realm unto itself.”
– Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Washington Post 
Naím succeeds in presenting a clear account of how illicit commerce works and what its consequences are…he sheds light on one of the most powerful forces shaping today’s world.” –Time Magazine
“Intellectually invigorating and accessible…it’s not solely bullets that are changing the world.”–USA Today
“Mr. Naím’s ambitions are encyclopedic. If someone, somewhere is trying to get something over on their government, he wants to chronicle their evasions”–New York Sun





Click on the image to watch a preview of the National Geographic Emmy-Award Winning documentary based on Illicit.

Illicit: The Dark Trade (2008)
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This  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. Naím lends his expertise and his voice to the film.


A former economics minister of Venezuela and World Bank executive director, Dr. Naím has been the editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine since 1997. In fall 2005 he published Illicit, a meticulously researched book that opened the eyes of powerbrokers around the world. An international best-seller, Illicit has been published in nineteen languages.


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. The film 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. In revealing how consumers are often themselves complicit in illegal trade, Illicit: The Dark Trade provides a timely look into a shadowy world that is relevant to viewers everywhere.


llicit: The Dark Trade was produced by National Geographic Television. Visit the National Geographic site to  purchase the documentary.


Click here to preview of the National Geographic Emmy-Award Winning documentary, Illicit: The Dark Trade:

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