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The Transnational Nature of Organized Crime in the Americas

The Latin America Program presented two panels to examine the transnational nature of organized criminal groups and illicit trafficking, and how to combat this threat.

Date & Time

Apr. 9, 2013
8:45am – 1:00pm ET


5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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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"




Hosted By

Latin America Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin America Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more

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