A high-level soccer official in Uruguay said recently that the country's organized fan clubs have begun operating like criminal organizations, indicating the evolution of these so-called "barras bravas" mirrors that of their counterparts in neighboring Argentina.
In contrast to most of the region, Uruguay's government and at least one prison in Colombia are taking steps to provide more opportunities and rehabilitation to their prison populations in an effort to reduce recidivism rates and combat organized crime.
Drug traffickers from Brazil are using Uruguay, in particular its capital city and main port of Montevideo, as a transit point for international drug trafficking operations, increasing the odds that Uruguay's internal drug market could grow larger and fuel the rise of local crime groups.
Three years after Uruguay became the first South American country to create a legal market for marijuana, seven out of every ten cannabis consumers still acquire the product on the black market. The delays in the implementation of the legalization law have left the door open for drug trafficking, and it appears that the illegal marijuana trade will remain a lucrative business for at least the near future.