The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
US officials working in Miami's airport reportedly inspect just a fraction of the animal cargo passing through the busy international hub, providing ample opportunities for wildlife smuggling as Latin America struggles with the growth of eco-trafficking.
The profits on offer for eco-trafficking rival those of drugs, arms and people trafficking, while the transnational networks behind it corrupt institutions, destroy eco-systems and ruin livelihoods. So why does Latin America not take eco-trafficking more seriously?
Eco-trafficking is no longer the preserve of a handful of poachers, loggers and specialized smugglers, but has become a billion-dollar trade run by transnational organized crime networks that spread corruption, violence and environmental destruction in their wake throughout Latin America.
A new Greenpeace report exposes the web of corruption behind illegal deforestation in Brazil, unraveling some of the details behind an illicit trade that threatens environmental catastrophe as it decimates the Amazon rainforest.
Authorities in Ecuador have rescued around 8,000 animals from eco-traffickers in the last decade, a number that likely represents just a fraction of a trade threatening the fauna in one of the world's most biodiverse countries.
The high price of an exotic wood has spurred a rash of timber theft in the forests of Panama, threatening the region's tropical jungles as traffickers seek to satisfy demand in Asia.
A new report by the international watchdog group Global Witness says two-thirds of documented killings of environmentalists over the last decade occurred in Latin America and nearly half in Brazil, as environmental campaigns clash with both legal and criminal business interests, especially in the timber trade.
Conservationists in Costa Rica have reacted strongly to a court ruling that absolves a woman accused of shark "finning" and orders the compensation of a boat captain connected to the case, saying the judgment effectively serves to legitimize the illicit trade.
Authorities in Mexico have seized a record 10,000 ton haul of illegal timber worth more than $1 million, another indication of the wide range of illicit activities undertaken by criminal organizations to increase revenue streams.
Heavily armed pirates have been hijacking shrimp catches along Mexico's Pacific Coast, perhaps the work of cartel gunmen with time on their hands, or a sign of an interruption in cocaine shipments.