Investigation and Analysis of Organized Crime

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Countries

CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Caribe

The Caribbean's geographic location and countless islands make it a huge transshipment route for drugs heading to the United States, a dynamic that has fostered high rates of violence and gang-related crime. Weak governance and endemic corruption have been essential in strengthening organized crime's roots in the region...

guatelama

Guatemala's criminal organizations are among the most sophisticated and dangerous in Central America. Some of them have been in operation for decades. They include former members of the military, intelligence agencies and active members of the police. Transporting illegal drugs north comprises the bulk of their activity, but organized crime in Guatemala is also involved in marijuana and poppy cultivation...

panama

Panama's location connecting Central and South America has historically made it a key transit point in illegal trafficking routes, as well as a refuge and negotiating area for criminal organizations. Its favorable economy and the Colon Free Trade Zone (CFZ)'s booming contraband market have long attracted international money launderers. The country's weak judicial...

honduras

Executive Summary One of the poorest countries in Latin America, Honduras is also among the most violent and crime-ridden countries in the region. This is, in part, due to its role as a strategically important transit nation for the transnational drug trade, as well as macroeconomic shifts, endemic poverty, corruption, and political turmoil. Estimates vary, but between 140 and 300 tons of cocaine...

nicaragua

Nicaragua has been spared much of the violence that has shaken its neighbors, and while the country does appear to host at least one transnational criminal organization, so far it has not seen the kind of gang wars affecting the Northern Triangle countries: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. While Nicaragua sees plenty of drug trafficking over its borders, local traffickers...

elsalvador

El Salvador is a relatively small but growing player in the drug trafficking business. It serves as a drug recipient and storage point along the Pacific Coast, and a bridge via the Pan-American Highway, the Fonseca Gulf, and roads from Honduras that cut through relatively unpopulated areas.

mexico

Mexico is home to the hemisphere’s largest, most sophisticated and violent organized criminal gangs. These organizations have drawn from Mexico’s long history of smuggling and its close proximity to the United States, the world’s largest economy, to grow into a regional threat. Their networks stretch from Argentina into Canada and Europe. They traffic in illegal drugs, contraband, arms and humans...

belize

The small Central American nation of Belize has a remarkably high homicide rate. The main sources of violence in the country are domestic gangs that operate mainly in Belize City, engaging in local drug trafficking and robberies. However, as the country’s role in the international drug trade has grown, Central American gangs and Mexican drug trafficking groups have also established a presence there...

Colombia

Despite the government's advances in security over the last decade, at least a half dozen major criminal groups still operate in Colombia. Several of them have put ideology aside and focus on drug production, trafficking and distribution on a local level, even while they continue to move arms, launder money, kidnap and extort. The complicated panorama has been fueled by...

Venezuela

Venezuela is a key transit country for drug shipments going from Colombia to the United States and Europe. The illegal drug trade has traditionally been controlled by foreign organizations, particularly Colombians, attracted by poor rule of law and corruption. However, there is evidence that beginning in the mid-2000s corrupt elements in the security forces stepped up their role in the...

ecuador

Ecuador's geographic location and other environmental characteristics have long provided incentives for transnational organized crime to exploit the country as a drug transshipment point and a logistical safe haven. Once considered one of the most insecure countries in the region...

bolivia

One of Latin America’s most impoverished nations, Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of coca after Colombia and Peru, and a key transit point for drugs. In addition to serving as an air bridge for Peruvian cocaine, Bolivia is home to foreign criminal organizations, particularly Colombian groups, some of which run cocaine laboratories in the country...

Peru

Although violence in Peru has been relatively low since the end of its civil conflict in the late 1990s, the cocaine trade is on the rise in the country, which surpassed Colombia to become the world's largest producer of cocaine in 2011, according to some estimates. Profits from drug trafficking and illegal logging have fueled a small resurgence of the...

Brazil

Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, has seen some important security advances in recent years, taking dozens of communities in Rio de Janeiro from criminal gangs through its innovative UPP security program. However, it faces a serious threat from its two largest domestic criminal gangs, the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando Capital - PCC) and Red Command (Comando Vermelho), who are...

Uruguay

Known as "the Switzerland of Latin America," Uruguay has some of the lowest crime rates and strongest state institutions in the region. At the same time, however, the historically peaceful country is undergoing a steady rise in crime and insecurity, much of which is linked to drug trafficking and small-scale gang activity. The country -- which is testing some of...

SOUTH AMERICA