• Gold and Chaos: Gang Lords Rule Venezuela's Orinoco Mining Arc

    At Venezuela's Cuatro Muertos (Four Dead Men) mine, the search for gold is chaotic. (Credit: OCCRP, Photographer’s name withheld for their safety)

    The rise of organized crime in Venezuela's southern Bolívar region has been directly proportional to the state's neglect of local people and towns. Criminal gang lords impose terror using the same methods of extreme violence favored by the leaders of Venezuelan prisons, the pranes, turning the mining business into part of their criminal network.

  • What Is Behind Killings in Venezuela Illegal Mining Regions?

    Killings rising in Venezuela illegal mining

    State forces have reportedly been responsible for a wave of killings in Venezuela's illegal mining zones, sparking questions over whether they are combating criminal networks, clearing the way for multinationals or looking to control the trade themselves.

  • The FARC's Riches: Up to $580 Million in Annual Income

    The FARC may have earned up to $580 million a year

    The former rebels of what was once Latin America's oldest insurgency, the FARC, continually claimed to have barely any money. And while they did have a lot of expenses, they also have traditionally sat astride territories that generate well over $1 billion dollars in criminal revenue every year. This last installment on the FARC's riches attempts to quantify the lucrative economies they used to control -- ones that Colombia's other criminal actors now wish to possess.

  • Crime-Linked Colombia Emerald Barons Face Extradition on US Drug Charges

    Colombia's profitable emerald mining industry has alleged ties to illegal activities

    The United States has requested the extradition of several Colombian emerald magnates on drug trafficking charges, marking the first time US authorities have targeted members of the country's lucrative emerald industry, and possibly foreshadowing a new chain of indictments to come.

  • Weekly InSight: InSide Colombia's BACRIM

    Colombian authorities arrest a BACRIM

    In our July 13 Facebook Live, Executive Director Jeremy McDermott spoke to InSight Crime investigator James Bargent about what are known as "bandas criminales" or BACRIM -- Colombia's "franchise" mafias operating around the country. 

  • LatAm is Most Murderous Region for Land, Environmental Activists: Report

    Latin America is the most murderous region for land rights, environmental activists

    Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for activists fighting for their land or trying to safeguard the environment, according to a Global Witness report, which also provides insight into why these defenders are at such high risk.

  • After Massive Police Op, What's Next in Fight Against Illegal Gold?

    Peru authorities burn an illegal mining site

    In a massive operation, more than 2,000 police officers destroyed dozens of illegal mining camps in the heart of the country's mining area. Still, it's not clear whether this will have any long term impact on the trade.

  • How El Salvador's Metal Mining Ban Could Benefit Organized Crime

    Illegal mining is a multibillion-dollar industry in Latin America

    El Salvador made history earlier this year when it became the first country in the world to outlaw all metal mining. But as the ban begins to take effect, experts are warning that organized crime groups may seek to move in on this newly illegal industry.

  • After the Gold Rush: Colombian Town Counts Cost of Illegal Mining Boom

    For five years, the town of Buriticá in northern Colombia was consumed by a gold fever that turned the sleepy mountainside village into a stronghold of illegal mining, mafiosos and armed groups. Following the biggest anti-mining operation in Colombia's history, that gold rush is now over. But for Buriticá there is no going back; this is now a mining town. And the industry involves Colombia's most powerful crime group, the Urabeños.

  • Inside Colombia's Multimillion-Dollar Black Market Explosives Trade

    An Indugel explosives seizure

    Colombia's flourishing illegal gold mining business requires explosives, many of which are sourced illicitly. This essential yet overlooked trade has opened the door for powerful criminal bosses to forge a lucrative black market that involves a large cast of characters, including assassins, legal mining companies and even the Colombian army.