Organized crime in Latin America is undergoing constant and substantial changes, positioning itself as a relevant strategic actor in the hemisphere, reconfiguring geographic borders, penetrating political and social structures, playing a significant role in the economy, and threatening progress in building the state and strengthening democratic systems. Although its manifestations differ from place to place, organized crime is present in every country in the region and has become one of the biggest challenges governments face.  

In light of the constant changes in criminal structures and their capacities to learn, innovate, and adapt, it is useful to examine the factors that explain these constant shifts as well as how such organizations have managed to expand their influence and presence.  This essay introduces the concept of the “rebellion” of criminal networks” to explain the current dynamic of and context within which organized crime operates. The author also outlines the changes that have fostered the emmergence of local markets for illegal drugs. The essay concludes with ten recommendations for addressing this challenge.

This bulletin, published simultaneously in English and Spanish, summarizes the forthcoming Spanish-language article “La rebelión de las redes: El crimen organizado en América Latina y las fuerzas que lo modifican.”