The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
A report says Colombia's Urabeños criminal group has subjected 3,000 people to siege-like conditions in a town in the northeastern province of Bolivar, an unusual tactic that highlights the degree of social control the group can exert in areas of strategic importance.
Cattle-running groups have reportedly illegally transported 22,000 heads of cattle from eastern Nicaragua to Honduras in three months, highlighting the size of a trade that allegedly relies on corrupt officials and large landowners.
Venezuela ranked the lowest in the world for perceptions of security in a recent Gallup poll, while citizens in Ecuador reported feeling considerably safer than four years ago, illustrating changing security perceptions amid constant shifts in the region's criminal landscape.
At least 700 people have been killed in Guatemala so far this year for failing to pay extortion fees, according to a local watchdog group, a number that underscores the enormous scale and impact of the crime.
Authorities in Bolivia have identified three trafficking routes used to transport drugs from Peru to Brazil by land and water, indicating traffickers are not wholly reliant on the aerial route currently the subject of a security forces crackdown.
Uraba, which means "promised land" in the indigenous tongue, was the cradle of the paramilitaries, and remains the country's principal BACRIM stronghold. This is where most of the Urabeños command nodes still meet, and it is the seat of the organization's "board of directors," or Estado Mayor. The region is crucial drug trafficking real estate, providing access to coca crops located in the Nudo de Paramillo, the mountains of Bolívar and the jungles of Choco. It sits astride one of the most important drug movement corridors from the center of the country to the departure points on both the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards. Finally, it has a culture of illegality that stretches from the formation of the Marxist rebels in the 1960s, if not before, which provides fertile ground for today's BACRIM to flourish.
The name BACRIM was created by the government of former President Alvaro Uribe in the aftermath of the demobilization of the AUC. Then-President Uribe was keen to draw a line in the sand, to avoid undermining the AUC peace process. For this reason, any drug trafficking organizations post-2006 were not to be considered paramilitary groups, but rather, "criminal bands," (for the Spanish "bandas criminales" – BACRIM). Yet all but one of the BACRIM had their roots in the AUC. The exception that proved the rule was the Rastrojos, which emerged from the military wing of a faction of the Norte del Valle Cartel.
Two wildly divergent views of what is happening with the truce between El Salvador's two foremost gangs converge in one important way: they both paint a bleak picture for the near future of the fragile agreement and of the country.
Deep in the Amazon, where Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet, the once crime saturated Colombian city of Leticia enjoys relative tranquility, while Brazilian neighbor Tabatinga is rocked by drug trade violence.
A recent report on cocaine "backpackers" in Peru reveals the workings of a low-tech trafficking technique that is on the increase again, as security forces destroy illegal air strips and seek to restrict the use of drug flights from coca-producing areas.