Home » Side event: Latin American organized crime groups and worldwide drug trafficking

Side event: Latin American organized crime groups and worldwide drug trafficking

Organized by the Governments of Colombia and Honduras, and Interpol


Colombia: The scourge of drugs have for decades fed violence and weakened institutional legitimacy. It has also created irreversible damage. The measures implemented show that the constant transformation of trafficking organisations demands a fight against all components and constant revision, renovation and innovation; to anticipate and remain relevant and effective. The evaluation and measurements of the performance of the institutions and governance should take into account internal and external factors. The atomisation and mutation of the criminal organisations, new markets and monopolies of crimes, offer new horizons for illegal organisations. The capacities of the State of Colombia have been built to achieve transcendent successes. Which make of Colombia a key ally international in this fight. The National Police, together with the Armed Forces, and (…) have created alliances to tackle the SDI system: production, trafficking and commercialisation + related offences. In production, we talk about production, precursors, storage. Inter-agency coordination, also with international authorities, is key. Territories affected by illicit cultivation have specific needs and face specific issues. Europe and the US boost demand. The market causes almost half a million deaths worldwide. The environmental impact of 1 ha of coca is the deforestation of 2 ha of tropical forest. People who use drugs seek new sensations, which creates a new chapter in public policy towards synthetic drugs. These new threats require early warning systems coordinated international, better understanding of the criminal market and related actions. In terms of related offences, we think of money laundering, threats to the life, human and environmental resources. Previous sub-systems are strengthened by the whole system of illicit drugs. For instance: cultivators, consumers and international drug crime organisations. The National Police, Armed Forces and Prosecutor’s Office cooperate to tackle this threat. These efforts are part of an integral, inter-agency strategy 2018-2022. A multidimensional strategy that tackles all components with equal might. To accomplish it, we seek: tackling illicit cultivation (utilisation of aerial spraying with clear evaluation) and PNIS; increase research on money laundering and arms trafficking, as related crimes; strengthening intelligence efforts with production and consumption countries to identify criminal networks; strengthen anti-corruption strategy; increase of zones that are far from urban centres with relevant technologies; prevention focusing on vulnerable populations. In Colombia, we think the efforts are national, regional and, of course, international. Trafficking has no borders and threats world security. It’s a common responsibility. Police cooperation is key. Colombia acknowledges the role of the Secretariat of Interpol, including the CRIMJUST and Fortaleza programme, of which the Colombian police is a part and which includes capacity-building and information exchange. Colombian institutions work with Interpol and utilise its capacities, including the secure communications system. These tool make coordination easier. We respectfully invite you to never forget that drug trafficking is not a responsibility of any country, but a world responsibility that requires common responses.

Arturo Mejía, Honduras: Honduras has a privileged position as in the middle of the Americas. It gives us resources, but it’s utilised by transnational criminal groups. The border with Nicaragua has historically being used for transhipment of drugs, money and arms. The Caribbean corridor, the Atlantic corridor and also the [new] Pacific corridor. This is the context of trafficking and our Colombian colleague discussed. The cartels of trafficking in our country have used criminal groups. Our country isn’t a producer and consuming country, but  a transit country. As such, we suffer the scourge and deaths associated. Gangs (marasand pandillas) remain involved. What is a gang in Honduras? They appeared in Los Angeles in the end of the 1980s. In Honduras, small groups of young people, in the capital, we had small gangs like everywhere. But in the 1990s, when the wars in the region ended, and product of the return of young people, create the Pandilla 18 and Mara Salvatrucha. Involved in minor crime, but in the 2000s, more serious crimes…and drug trafficking. Now they’re part and parcel of the cartels. This criminal action has led to displacement. This is where international and domestic cartels prey on people and displace entire populations. In terms of the murder rate, in 2011 it was 86.47 deaths per 100.000 inhabitants. Through the strategy we have developed, the number has been lowered to 7.46 deaths per 100.000 inhabitants in 2017. It’s been very successful. It’s a historic change. What do we do? We needed an umbrella organisation (the Council of Defence of Security) for different relevant organisations to be involved. We’ve also created special forces (against drug trafficking, for instance). Our demand reduction efforts have been joined by NGOs, who note our success and capacity. We also worked on mass incarceration. We even destroyed a prison that was a breeding ground for criminality. We created isolated high-security prisons. And created a special force that controls even the people who work there. We also have an anti-mara and anti-gang force. It fights extortion, which is the most common, and the drug cartels. We have intervened marginalised sectors and attacked criminal organisations. To minors, we offer development and development opportunities. This is part of the interinstitutional work that has lowered homicides as I showed you before.

Spain: (…)

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