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Symbiosis: Gangs and Municipal Power in Apopa, El Salvador

Stories such as that of the former mayor of the El Salvador municipality of Apopa, José Elías Hernández, or "Old Timer" as the gangs knew him, are increasingly common in this Central American country marked by dark alliances between gangs and politicians.

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Elites and Organized Crime

Latin America Media Giants Implicated in FIFA Corruption Scandal

Latin America Media Giants Implicated in FIFA Corruption Scandal

Testimony in an ongoing trial in a US court has implicated two of Latin America's biggest media companies in the wide-ranging FIFA corruption scandal, highlighting the potential for new revelations about the case to hit other powerful actors in the region.

More Elites and Organized Crime News

  • Peru Mayor's Arrest Reveals Ties to Drug Trafficking and Terrorism

    David Bazán Arévalo, mayor of Tocache, Peru

    On July 26, Peru's counternarcotics police arrested David Bazán Arévalo, the mayor of Tocache, on charges of financing and supplying weapons of war to a narco-terrorist faction of the Shining Path operating in the Huallaga River region since the 1980s. Ojo Público accessed official documents detailing the investigation of Bazán Arévalo as an alleged member of a drug trafficking organization and as a coordinator and financer of a 2007 terrorist attack that killed a public prosecutor and three police officers in Tocache.

  • US Sanctions on Venezuela President Promise Zero Impact, Experts Say

    Experts expect US economic sanctions against Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to have zero impact

    The rare move by the United States to place economic sanctions on Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro will do little to reduce criminality within his regime and across his beleaguered country. The question is whether matters could get worse in criminal terms.

  • How Odebrecht Profited From Corrupting LatAm Political Elites

    The logo of Brazil's once-mighty construction giant, Odebrecht

    On December 21, 2016, the US Department of Justice and Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht reached a record-setting anti-corruption settlement that revealed Odebrecht spent hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to secure public works contracts in twelve different countries across three continents. Half a year later, InSight Crime takes a deep dive into the nature of Odebrecht's corrupt activities in Latin America, the extent of its illicit practices, the state of the various ongoing investigations into the company and its projects, and the web of corruption that continues to engulf some of the region's most powerful political elites. 

  • Honduras Tycoon Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering in US

    Honduras business behemoth Yani Rosenthal

    One of Honduras' most powerful and politically-connected business tycoons, Yani Rosenthal, has pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge in the United States, suggesting the possibility that he could provide information on other Honduran elites involved in criminal activities. 

  • El Salvador Reworks Asset Forfeiture Law in Favor of Corruption Defendants

    El Salvador's Legislative Assembly

    In a full legislative plenary session, El Salvador's political parties demonstrated their ability to twist regulations intended to fight crime and shield the assets of those suspected to have obtained them illegally. Among those who voted are officials with personal motivations for reforming the asset forfeiture law.

  • Brazil Chief Prosecutor Applauds Multilateral Anti-Corruption Cooperation

    Brazil's prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot at the Atlantic Council on July 19, 2017.

    Brazil's chief prosecutor highlighted the importance of international cooperation in ongoing probes of the biggest corruption cases in the country's history. But while multilateral exchanges of information and best practices have helped advance these investigations, they also may have some potential drawbacks.

  • Guatemala Investigates Another Top Official of Pérez Molina Govt

    Former Guatemalan minister Sinibaldi charged with money laundering

    A former presidential candidate, who was also a minister during the administration of jailed former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, has been accused of running a corruption and money laundering network, revealing another chapter in the story of Guatemala's mafia state.

  • After Lula's Conviction, A Typology of Presidential Corruption

    Graffiti that reads "Against Corruption"

    On the surface, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's 9-year sentence for corruption seems reminiscent of numerous corruption cases targeting former or current presidents in Latin America. But behind the accusations are varying degrees of collusion and control, from heading a criminal enterprise to a one-off criminal act of personal enrichment.

  • Blurring the Line: The Security Secretary and the Medellín Mafia

    Ex-Security Secretary Gustavo Villegas

    The arrest of Medellín's security secretary in north Colombia has rocked the city establishment and challenged the political elite's prevailing narrative it has spent years promoting. But was he mediating with criminals for the sake of peace and security or working at the service of the mafia?

  • Argentina Customs Fraud Scheme Harkens Back to Venezuela

    Customs fraud scheme may have cost Argentina $300 million

    A customs fraud that allegedly allowed a criminal network to steal millions from Argentina's government looks eerily similar to how some of Venezuela's private businesses and corrupt government officials have also benefitted from that Andean nation's efforts to manipulate currency values.