News Analysis

Colombia's Largest-Ever Manhunt Hasn't Caught Its Top Target. Here's Why.

Colombia's Largest-Ever Manhunt Hasn't Caught Its Top Target. Here's Why.

Colombia's dense jungle on the Caribbean coast is the heartland of the Urabeños, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the Americas. This is where its top leaders are hiding, and it is also where the government is rebooting its largest-ever police operation to try, once again, to force them out. But so far the massive effort has failed to achieve its main objective: capturing Colombia's most wanted criminal...

News Briefs

Mexico Cartel Tied to Argentina’s Second-Largest Cocaine Sting

Mexico Cartel Tied to Argentina’s Second-Largest Cocaine Sting

Authorities believe that the second-largest cocaine seizure in Argentina's history is linked to a Mexican cartel that exploited an unusual...

Panama President Presents Alternative to Trump's CentAm Security Approach

Panama President Presents Alternative to Trump's CentAm Security Approach

President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama visited Washington, DC this week, where he presented development-focused proposals for dealing with security...

CentAm Gangs Selling Drug Trafficking Services on Dark Web: UN Official

CentAm Gangs Selling Drug Trafficking Services on Dark Web: UN Official

A UN official stated that Central American gangs are strengthening their ties with transnational drug trafficking groups, in some cases...

Mexico Authorities Misusing Surveillance Tech to Spy on Political Opponents: Reports

Mexico Authorities Misusing Surveillance Tech to Spy on Political Opponents: Reports

Authorities in Mexico are reportedly misusing surveillance technology to spy on activists and critics of the government, raising questions about...

Barrio 18 Extortion Scheme Casts Doubt on El Salvador Govt Security Narrative

Barrio 18 Extortion Scheme Casts Doubt on El Salvador Govt Security Narrative

The Barrio 18 gang in El Salvador allegedly engaged in large-scale extortion of a community water management project, underscoring flaws...

FARC Dissidents Behind Drug Lab on Colombia-Ecuador Border?

FARC Dissidents Behind Drug Lab on Colombia-Ecuador Border?

Authorities in Colombia dismantled a cocaine processing laboratory in the department of Putumayo along the border with Ecuador, a further...

Investigations

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The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...