What Sells On the Black Market


Number of jobs created by the black market, globally: 1.8 billion

Total US illicit trade value: $625.63 billion

Some of the biggest markets:

Body Parts

The World Health Organization estimates that 10,000 illegal surgeries involving organs take place every year

106,879 organs were transplanted in 2010 (legally and illegally)

This is just 10% of global need

Average cost per part:

Pair of Eyeballs: $1,525

Scalp: $607

Skull with Teeth: $1,200

Shoulder: $500

Coronary Artery: $1,525

Heart: $119,000

Liver: $157,000

Hand and Forearm: $385

Pint of Blood: $337

Spleen: $508

Stomach: $508

Small Intestine: $2,519

Kidney: $262,000

Kidneys make up 75% of global illicit organ trade

Because of rising rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and other heart problems

Gallbladder: $1,219

Skin: $10 per square inch

The illegal organ trade has large markets in China, India and Pakistan

Exotic Pets and Animals

Many endangered animals are trafficked every year to be exotic pets, to be eaten or to be used for medicinal purposes

List of animal prices (USD):

Live chimpanzee – $50

Elephant – $28,000

Geckos in the Phillippines (used to treat asthma) – $2,300

Gorillas – $400,000

Ivory – $1,300/lb

Komodo dragon – $30,000

Polar bear skin – $7,760 – $9,930

Rhino horns – $97,000/kg

Shark fins (used in shark fin soup) – $100/kg

Snake venom – $215,175/liter

Live Tiger – $50,000

Dead Tiger – $5,000

Tortoises – $10,000 in China

Turtle eggs – $1 in Costa Rica


More than 5 million people in the US abuse narcotic painkillers

Oxycodone and other prescription medications are among the most abused drugs

4,048 deaths in 2010

Strict DEA regulations force many people to get their drugs from the black market

Globally, cocaine generates $35 billion on the black market

Average US street value: $174.2/gram

Ecstasy – Average US street value: $35/tablet

Heroin – Average US street value: $200/gram

Marijuana – Average US street value: $20 – $1,800/oz

Meth – Average US street value: $3 – $500/gram

The contract killing of a civilian can cost up to $25,000 on the black market


Canada’s 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits payment for sperm or eggs

Sperm banks across the country quickly ran dry

The black market gives no guarantee that sperm is safe or STD-free

Today, over 90% of Canada’s semen used for artificial insemination is from back-alley deals or from US for-profit sperm banks

Crude oil

US market value: $10 million

Strict government regulation has pushed some people to smuggle crude oil

Black market thieves sabotage pipelines and then sell by the barrel

In 2010, Mexican government oil monopoly Pemex detected 712 pipelines thefts

This was up from 2005’s 136 thefts

This caused crude oil prices to rise almost $100/barrel

In times of record-high oil prices, crude oil can be sold on the black market for less than half of that on the legal market



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