Organized Crime Threatens Hemispheric Peace

Organized Crime Threatens Hemispheric Peace

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
November 24, 2021

Transnational organized crime is a danger to security in the Western Hemisphere, organized crime specialist Celina Realuyo, professor at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., said at the University of Panama, on October 25, 2021.

“No one country has the solution, that’s why we have to work with partner countries to face this threat,” the professor added. “In the last 30 years, we have seen a globalization of transnational organized crime. Now, the flow of drugs comes with the flow of irregular migration, weapons, dirty money, and contraband.”

It is no longer a question of simple criminals who produce and traffic drugs, but rather of transnational organizations that move exorbitant amounts of capital, according to the Colombian news site Connectas. “This economic power has the ability to undermine democracy, if necessary, for its own interests,” it added.

Mexican cartels, gangs in Central America, and criminal groups such as dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are threatening nations’ main missions, such as providing security and prosperity and building a society based on law and governance through transparent elections, Realuyo said.

“Drug trafficking in and from Latin America, an ‘industry’ that did not slow down during the pandemic, has mutated into a network of cartels and transnational criminal organizations. Rather than competing with each other, as in the past, drug traffickers now collaborate by weaving global networks that increase their economic power and blackmail governments, often powerless,” Connectas reports.

High levels of organized crime

The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, based in Geneva, Switzerland, revealed that the vast majority of the world’s population (79 percent) lives in countries with high levels of crime and low resistance to organized crime.

The cost of organized crime and violence in the Americas is “nearly 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product,” Realuyo said. “The role of security forces should be expanded, the modus operandi of criminal organizations monitored, government presence in marginalized communities with social services strengthened, and the fight against money laundering through domain extinction emphasized,” she added.

Joint solutions

The United States, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico continue to promote policies and actions that strengthen security cooperation against organized crime.

On October 27, Honduras extradited to the United States Fredy Donaldo Mármol, “one of the top leaders of large-scale narcotrafficking in the country,” the Honduran Public Ministry said. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has charged Mármol with money laundering and cocaine distribution.

On October 22, Colombia and the United States agreed to create the Center against Illicit Finances and the Interagency Anti-money Laundering Group to delve deeper into long-term combined work aimed at prosecuting and dismantling illicit financial networks, the Colombian magazine Semana reported.

On October 8, Mexico and the United States announced a security strategy against criminal organizations. The initiative emphasizes attention to violence and the use of intelligence against organized crime, based on effective cooperation for enforcing the law, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

“Criminal groups do not respect flags or borders, and they harm us with an illicit economy,” Realuyo said. “The United States seeks to ensure that the Western Hemisphere is safe, free, and prosperous,” she concluded.