The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
The US Treasury has added an alleged Sinaloa Cartel member linked to drug lord Juan Jose "El Azul" Esparragoza Moreno to its Kingpin List, as the authorities increase the pressure on Mexico's leading criminal organization following the arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
The emergence of allegations made by an incarcerated drug baron that he funded the political activities of Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe comes as a timely reminder of the country's vulnerability to drug money influence in the run-up to national elections.
Officials in Guatemala have connected a massacre of nine people in the northern state of Peten to "score settling" among drug traffickers, in what appears another manifestation of the turmoil afflicting the region since the debilitation of the Zetas Mexican criminal group, and the capture and extradition of several powerful local traffickers.
Mexico's landmark oil reform is poised to bring a flood of new companies into the nation's energy industry, adding a new set of targets for organized crime.
New research has focused on how the changing fortunes of Mexico's agricultural sector can instigate drug crop production and cartel activity, a valuable albeit imperfect addition to research into the drivers behind the country's rampant violence.
As Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres and the Venezuelan Violence Observatory battle it out over the 2013 murder figures, most Venezuelans shrug their shoulders and believe who they want to believe. Government supporters instinctively trust the minister, while the opposition takes it for granted that the Observatory's much higher estimate must be right.
Since our last article in this series there have been significant changes in the administration of citizen security in Venezuela. The murder of actress Monica Spear and her husband last month effectively provided the occasion for the Maduro government to accentuate the militarization of the administration of citizen security, replacing civilians with military officers both at the helm of the National Experimental Security University (UNES) -- where security forces receive training -- and the National Bolivarian Police (PNB). This means that the entire citizen security apparatus is now directed by retired or active military officers.
If Mexico's government thinks that "legalizing" vigilante groups in the embattled state of Michoacan will solve its citizen security problems, it should have a closer look at the three other countries in the region -- Colombia, Guatemala and Peru -- that tried similar projects under similar circumstances with dreadful results.
Almost $3 million has been spent on police reform in Honduras in the past two years, a sum that has brought few results, as highlighted by a recent drug money smuggling case pointing to police complicity.
The annual release of the global Corruption Perceptions Index is rarely good news for Latin America. Except for a handful of standout nations, the region consistently performs poorly, with all but six mainland Latin American countries appearing in the bottom half of the table this year. But what do the 18 years of the index tell us about the state of corruption in Latin America?