The Transnational Nature of Organized Crime in the Americas

April 09, 2013 // 8:45am1:00pm

Organized criminal groups engaged in illicit trafficking often operate in an international context transcends national boundaries.  So-called Mexican “cartels” operate in the United States, Central America, and the Andes, as do Colombian and Brazilian organizations.  They have established links and operations throughout the hemisphere and increasingly globally including in Africa and Europe.  The Wilson Center’s Latin America Program organized two panels to examine the nature of these international linkages and what steps can and are being taken to combat this transnational threat. 


8:45 - 9:00: Welcome
Cindy Arnson, Latin American Program Director

9:00 - 11:00: Central American Perspectives on Prosecuting Organized Crime
Moderator: Juan Carlos Garzón, Latin American Program Consultant


  • Ignacio de Lucas, Coordinator, Network of Central America Prosecutors to Confront Organized Crime (REFCO)
  • Walter Espinoza Espinoza, Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime, Costa Rica
  • Allan Edward Hernández Portillo, Director, Anti-Extortion Unit, El Salvador
  • Ronny Elías López Jerez, Public Prosecutor on Organized Crime, Guatemala

Discussant: Steven Dudley, Wilson Center Fellow and InSight Crime

11:00 – 1:00 International Linkages for Organized Crime in the Americas.  
Moderator: Eric L. Olson, Latin American Program Associate Director


  • Gema Santamaría, New School for Social Research -- “The Spread of Organized Crime in the Mexico-Central America Subregión”
  • Daniel Rico, University of Maryland -- “The International Dimensions of Colombian Organized Crime"
  • Marianna Pacheco Olinger, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro -- “The International Dimension of Brazilian Organized Crime”
  • Juan Carlos Garzón, Georgetown University -- “Policy Considerations for Confronting Organized Crime in the Americas"



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