Organized criminal networks are global phenomena that distort local and global
economic markets, bring violence and blur the role of the state in providing basic
services, all in the interest of increasing their wealth. The main weapon used by such
networks is corruption—of politicians and of many of the state apparatuses in the
countries in which they operate. This undermines the basic principles of democracy
and puts the state at the mercy of illicit economic interests.
This is a global challenge. Latin America has particularly suffered from these issues
for a number of reasons. The strong presence of illicit networks dedicated to illegal
mining, the trafficking of exotic species, arms trafficking and, in particular, the production
and sale of illegal drugs such as cocaine has created a massive inflow of illicit
money. Together with the high cost of political activity in the region and difficulties
in controlling political contributions, this has allowed organized crime to penetrate
the political landscape. However, efforts made in different Latin American countries
to confront these networks have seen significant achievements. There is a wealth of
positive and negative experience on how these problems can be confronted that will
be useful for countries in the same region and on other continents.
This book focuses on experiences in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and
Peru. The authors draw on research that illustrates how relationships are forged between
criminals and politicians. They identify numerous mechanisms for tackling
these relations, and discuss both the achievements and the challenges concerning
their practical application.