The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Criminal Diaspora: The Spread of Transnational Organized Crime and How to Contain its Expansion

The Wilson Center has published a report titled, The Criminal Diaspora: The Spread of Transnational Organized Crime and How to Contain its Expansion.

From the report: "The spread of transnational organized crime--fed by drug-trafficking and a growing number of other illegal economies--is the most significant security challenge for Latin American and Caribbean countries today. Criminal groups have expanded beyond their countries of origin to seek safe haven, open new corridors to meet the demand for a wide range of illegal products, launder money, and create commercial exchange 'zones' in which local criminal factions participate in the international market, exploiting the advantages of a globalized world. In each case, organized crime is taking violence and corruption to new heights and new places. Meanwhile, nations continue to respond to these challenges with rigid schemes that often prioritize national sovereignty, failing to pivot to strategies designed to limit the spread of transnational crime and prevent negative consequences for citizen security."

The authors of the report argue that "the 'invisible hand' of the market is winning out over the 'iron fist' policies of the state, demonstrating that repressive measures are not a sufficient response to the complex phenomenon of organized crime."

The authors of this document studied three "clusters" of criminal activity: the Mexican cluster, with links to the United States, Central America, and South America; the Brazilian cluster, with links to the Southern Cone and Africa; and the Colombian cluster, with links to the Andean region, the Caribbean, and the Southern Cone. The questions these authors sought to answer included: "Why do criminal organizations decide--or why are they forced--to move from one country to another? What is the purpose of a criminal organization's incursion into a new territory, and how is it done? What is their actual reach? What factors facilitate the expansion of criminal groups? What factors contribute to containing the transnational spread of organized crime? The ideas and recommendations contained in this document are based on the primary findings and conclusions of these studies."

To read this report in Spanish, click here.