The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
Twenty years ago, on December 2, 1993, Pablo Escobar, the pioneer of Colombia's cocaine trade, was killed on a rooftop in his native Medellin by police. His death signaled the end of one era of drug trafficking and the birth of another, as the drug trade continued apace, with Medellin still at its heart.
Three years ago, Buritica was a sleepy farming village tucked away in the mountains of Antioquia in northwest Colombia. Now, it is a gold rush frontier town replete with deathtrap mines, ramshackle huts, prostitutes, drugs, and narco-paramilitaries -- a metamorphosis that could become ever more common as Colombia's illegal gold miners, who have their roots in the country's civil conflict, seek new opportunities.
Just as every major crime group has its myth and legend, every criminal case to take them down is built around a story. Few can claim such a well-crafted narrative infused with intrigue as the organization known as the "Sinaloa Cartel." Its public face, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, enjoys an almost legendary status, fueled this year by the city of Chicago naming him Public Enemy No. 1; his immediate predecessor being Al Capone.
Argentina is now a key source of precursor chemicals for Mexican cartels, raising the question as to whether these transnational drug trafficking organizations are fuelling rising violence and intimidation in the epicenter of the country's drug trade -- Rosario.
Eight months after the opening salvos in Colombia's new war against micro-trafficking, residents in affected areas say the results have been an explosion in open drug use outside their homes, schools and businesses, while drug sales remain unaffected. The story is, in many ways, illustrative of the challenges ahead for much of the region as it faces down increasing local drug consumption.
Behind the biggest cocaine haul in French history were members of Venezuela's military. InSight Crime's investigation reveals the trafficking methods used by corrupt military cells and the covert international police operation that brought the smuggling ring down.
As Nicaragua prepares to extradite 18 Mexican citizens convicted of drug trafficking while posing as journalists, questions linger regarding the group’s operation and its ties to broadcast giant Televisa.
The Medellin mafia, fragmented through bitter infighting, has called a truce and made an agreement with their rivals the Urabeños, seeking to rebuild the criminal hegemony once enjoyed by the legendary underworld figure known as "Don Berna." However, creating a Berna replica, which relied on strong connections with the country's elite, may prove difficult.
In Mexico, the coasts and islands are left unprotected by the authorities, opening them up to drug trafficking interests. This is why an ex-governor can buy an island; why criminals can burn an entire island even while they use another to load and unload drugs and fuel.