Tag Archives: Organized crime

mexico-prison-monterrey

Organized crime in 2014: What can Latin America expect?

Organized crime is adaptable and profit-driven, and in 2014, that could mean moving beyond Mexico and Colombia to a more diverse set of nations.

We can already identify some of the trends that are likely to mark the evolution of organized crime in 2014. One is the issue of criminal migration, as organized crime in Mexico and Colombia, under increasing security force pressure, follows the path of least resistance, and sets itself up in other countries.

As we have seen with the collateral damage of nations that act as drug transshipment points, the trends of increasing violence, the growth of local organized crime groups, and surges in domestic consumption of drugs are likely to follow, as transnational crime, be it Colombian or Mexican, establishes a presence in these foreign nations. The Mexicans already have outposts throughout the Northern Triangle countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and continue to push down into Central America. Colombian organized crime syndicates have been seen in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and as far afield as Spain.

One of the major changes in drug trafficking has been the growth in domestic markets within Latin America, most particularly Brazil and Argentina, but with Mexico, Colombia, and even Chile registering growth in criminal earnings from the local distribution of drugs. While Colombian cocaine production makes up 80 percent of the US market, production in both Peru and Bolivia is feeding the domestic markets of Brazil and Argentina, with a percentage of cocaine also heading towards the lucrative European market. These changing markets are giving birth to different types of organized crime. While Colombians still dominate the drug trade in South America, there is evidence of sophisticated organized crime syndicates developing in other countries.

The El Salvador gang truce stumbles on, but few believe it will survive, let alone turn into a more meaningful peace process. Negotiations with the FARC in Colombia continue, and will be the top issue in presidential and congressional elections. It is likely that the smaller rebel group of the National Liberation Army (ELN) will also be granted a seat at peace talks. The rhythm and success of these talks will be reflected in the violence of the Colombian civil conflict as both sides seek to gain victories on the battlefield that they can translate into bargaining chips at the negotiating table.

Honduras will see a new president take office amid increasing chaos and the strengthening of organized crime. Neighboring El Salvador has its own presidential elections that will doubtless impact the gang truce and violence in this tiny Central American nation. The regional superpower, Brazil, will be hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the eyes of the world will turn towards this massive nation. While the pacification programs in the notorious favelas of Rio continue, the prison-based organized crime syndicates like the First Capital Command (PCC) grow in strength. The notoriously violent Brazilian police force will do all it can to isolate the games from the criminals.

Venezuela lurches from crisis to crisis, with President Nicolás Maduro’s unsteady hand on the tiller. The corruption in the Chavista regime continues to grow, and elements of the military deepen their involvement in drug trafficking, even as express kidnappings in Caracas and the murder rate are at epidemic levels.

Paraguay, often overlooked, is South America’s premier producer of marijuana. It is also home to South America’s newest rebel group. Peru, now the world’s principal producer of cocaine, must also be closely monitored. It’s rebel group, the Shining Path, under pressure from the security forces, has deepened its involvement in the drug trade. Bolivia, another coca producer and important cocaine transshipment nation, has enviably low levels of crime. However, there are clear indications that transnational criminal syndicates have been establishing a presence in the city, and province, of Santa Cruz.

There is overwhelming evidence that with attention focused on Central America, the Caribbean is again becoming important as a drug smuggling route. The chaos in Haiti makes this nation a favorite stopover point for cocaine shipments, but few of the islands have the capacity to take on sophisticated transnational organized crime.

As always, organized crime remains the most adaptable of beasts, looking for any opportunity to turn a profit. It is likely that in 2014 it will look for opportunities in a more diverse range of locations.

Source: csmonitor.com

Mexican President Calderon

Christian Caryl: Why organized crime is a growing force in world politics

Mexicans are celebrating a victory over the drug mafia this month. The arrest of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the head of the Zeta drug cartel, is big news. Trevino, alias Z-40, made a name for himself as one of the most brutal gangsters in a country that has become sadly inured to violence. One can only hope that his imprisonment will put an end to at least some of the stomach-turning brutality he was accustomed to inflicting on his enemies. (At one point, it’s been revealed, he even considered shooting down the plane of then-President Felipe Calderon.)

But will Z-40’s arrest put an end to Mexico’s drug wars? There’s reason to doubt it. Demand for drugs from the cartels’ customers in the United States remains strong, and until that underlying structural cause is addressed, this lucrative trade will continue to thrive. Some experts point out that one of the biggest beneficiaries of Trevino’s downfall is likely to be Joaquín Guzman Loera (“El Chapo”), the head of the rival Sinaloa cartel, who can revel in the elimination of one of his most energetic competitors.

Analysts put the value of the global drug trade at some $350 billion a year — and that’s probably a conservative estimate. And yet narcobusiness comprises only one relatively small slice of the much larger world of global criminality. According to the World Economic Forum: “The cross-border flow of global proceeds from criminal activities, corruption and tax evasion is estimated at over $1 trillion, with illegal drugs and counterfeit goods each accounting for 8 percent of world trade.”

Organized crime lurks behind many of the stories in the headlines today, though the connection rarely becomes explicit. Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was just convicted on probably spurious charges of embezzlement, made a name for himself by targeting the corruption that is so deep-seated in today’s Russia that it’s often hard to see where the government leaves off and the mob begins. European Union law enforcement officials warned recently that mobsters are capitalizing on the European financial crisis by taking advantage of black markets in goods and services. Meanwhile, the increasing prominence of the Internet in the global economy is fueling worries about the rising power of organized cybercriminals.

Gangsters are cropping up in all sorts of odd places. Criminal syndicates are implicated in everything from the poaching of rare wildlife to the counterfeiting of drugs and manufactured goods. That growing range of activities attests to the criminals’ skill at exploiting the possibilities offered by deepening global interconnectedness. Consider the opening of this story about a recent global raid by Interpol: “More than 6,000 people around the world were arrested in a two-month anti-counterfeiting sweep that netted tens of millions of dollars worth of fake shampoo in China, phony cigarettes in Turkey and bogus booze in Chile.” The investigators discovered everything from a subterranean factory in Ukraine manufacturing counterfeit cigarettes to a workshop in Peru that puts false labels on motors from China.

Mobsters thrive on instability. In the Syrian civil war, the same criminal groups that once played on their close ties to the government of Bashar al-Assad have now mutated into the shabiha, the feared paramilitaries that do the regime’s dirtiest work on the battlefield. But they’re not the only ones. “The link between insurgent groups and organized crime has long been a feature of intra-state conflict,” notes Asher Berman, an expert at the Institute for the Study of War. “Rebels often turn to criminal activity to obtain the weapons and funding they need to maintain the fight.” The rebels in Syria, desperate for cash, are increasingly resorting to mafia-like tactics of their own, ranging from car thefts to the looting of antiquities. Reports of systematic extortion — the familiar phenomenon of the “revolutionary tax” we’ve heard about so many times before — and economically motivated kidnapping are also on the rise.

What we’re seeing, though, is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Criminals, by definition, prefer to avoid the light of day, so the dimensions of the real mafia problem remain obscure. Was that Vatican official who was arrested in June on money-laundering charges merely trying to make himself and some well-connected friends a bit richer, or is he part of a much broader pattern of institutionalized corruption within the bank of the Holy See? Was that recent police raid in New Delhi that netted a huge haul of black-market weapons a victory over mobsters or terrorists? Did that witness who met an untimely end just before he was to testify in the Whitey Bulger case here in the United States really die of natural causes? Why did the Chinese harbor one of Taiwan’s most prominent triad leaders for 17 years before handing him over to Taipei earlier this month? In most cases, we’ll probably never know the whole story.

But there are a few things that we can say with certainty. First, organized crime in cyberspace is becoming a core problem, one that’s particularly hard to combat precisely because of its amorphousness. Indeed, there’s considerable anecdotal evidence that hackers-for-hire are increasingly lending their services to both governments and gangs. But the opacity of the culprits shouldn’t delude us about the scale of what’s at stake. A report issued earlier this week by a global financial organization noted that half of the world’s securities exchanges came under attack by hackers last year. That means that web-based criminals are potentially in a position to destabilize the global financial system — entirely aside from the untold losses to individuals and companies from mushrooming cybercrime.

Second, illicit financial flows are a big part of the problem. The biggest problem for large-scale criminals is banking their ill-gotten gains, and right now there are plenty of entirely legal lawyers, accountants, and offshore tax havens that are happy to help. Let’s put aside for the moment the theoretical arguments over the virtues and drawbacks of secrecy jurisdictions, and note simply that preserving the present system, which allows criminals to shift their profits almost effortlessly across the globe without scrutiny, will lead to disaster if allowed to continue unchecked. One recent report co-published by Global Financial Integrity and the African Development Bank claims that Africa alone lost up to $1.4 trillion to illicit financial flows. Surely the continuing existence of a system that allows for the existence of a “shadow financial system” on this scale is not good for anyone — countries developed and developing alike.

Third, powerful global crime syndicates are the enemy of good government. Democracy can hardly flourish when politicians meld with the shadowy forces of the mafia. It’s precisely this understanding that has spurred the recent wave of protests in Bulgaria, where demonstrators took to the streets after a thuggish young tycoon was appointed as the government’s top security official. Such concerns are by no means restricted to Eastern Europe, though. The wave of recent protests in places from Turkey to Brazil shows that citizens are increasingly worried about official malfeasance and the lack of transparency that allows it. From what I can see, they’re right to worry.

Christian Caryl, the editor of Democracy Lab, is a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute and a contributing editor at Foreign Policy. He is also the author of “Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century.”

Source: twincities.com

Emilio Cordileone

Former Vito Rizzuto ally Emilio Cordileone found dead


Montreal police said the man they found dead in a car Saturday afternoon had ties to the city’s Italian mafia.

City police discovered the body of Emilio Cordileone, 50, around 9:30 a.m. in a northern suburb.

Police said the car in which they found the victim was connected to the recent disappearance of an unidentified person. Sources told QMI Agency that the missing person was Cordileone.

Police would not confirm the identity of the victim nor would they say if it is the same person who had recently gone missing.

They would only say that the victim had wounds to the upper body and added that it was clear the victim was dead when he was discovered.

While Cordileone was known to police as having ties with the city’s Italian organized crime syndicates, he did not have a criminal record.

Source:torontosun.com

Joe Di Maulo

Joe Di Maulo Killed: Reputed Mafia Boss’ Murder Makes New Era In Organized Crime War


MONTREAL – A man alleged to be an influential member of the underworld whose career spanned nearly five decades has been gunned down in what appears to be a new chapter in Montreal’s ongoing Mafia war.

The killing of Joe Di Maulo is the first murder of a reputed Mafia boss since Vito Rizzuto, allegedly the most powerful Sicilian mobster in Canada, emerged from a long prison stint. Di Maulo was said to have once worked for a rival crime faction before joining with the Rizzutos in the 1970s.

He was killed outside his home late Sunday.

Di Maulo’s body was found face down in the driveway of his home that borders a golf course in a posh suburban area. Police said a 911 call came from a member of the family inside the home.

He was the brother-in-law of Raynald Desjardins, charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of the alleged Mob boss Salvatore Montagna. Currently awaiting trial, Desjardins recently lost a bid to get out of testifying before Quebec’s corruption inquiry.

Sources said Di Maulo suffered at least two gunshot wounds to the head but police would only say that an autopsy was needed to determine the cause of death.

“We’re still at the beginning of the investigation,” Sgt. Benoit Richard of Quebec provincial police said Monday.

“We’re still going over the scene right now — everything outside and inside the house — and we went over the area with sniffer dogs.”

There is a wooded area near Di Maulo’s home, which police paid close attention to on Monday. No weapon was found on the scene, Richard said.

Richard said police were meeting with neighbours, one by one, to determine if anyone saw anything suspicious in the days or weeks leading up to the death.

Police said the 70-year-old victim had links to organized crime but Richard said it was too soon to tell who might have been behind the attack.

“We need to have a clean slate to have an open mind and consider everything,” Richard said. “We’ve had information about Mr. Di Maulo’s links to organized crime, but we can’t (say) any one group is behind this.”

Di Maulo’s slaying is the latest in a series of attacks on Mafia-linked figures in recent months and years. The majority of the attacks have centered on key figures and members of the once-formidable Rizzuto clan.

Pierre de Champlain, a retired RCMP Mafia analyst and organized crime author, said that Di Maulo was a legendary figure in the Montreal Mafia — a man who had been involved in the underworld for 50 years and continued to be an important player.

His ties to the Calabrian clan that once dominated the Montreal crime scene became public during a provincial inquiry into organized crime in the 1970s. That Cotroni-Violi empire was soon violently wiped out by the Sicilian Rizzuto family — and Di Maulo survived the transition.

The businessman was discreet and kept a low profile.

“Over time, he became very influential and respected in Montreal,” said de Champlain.

“He wasn’t someone who was flamboyant or went out seeking attention from the media or the police.”

He said Di Maulo recognized that the Cotroni-Violi era was ending in the late 1970s and the Sicilians were on the rise.

He joined forces with them, de Champlain said.

“Because of his experience and expertise, he managed to convince other Calabrian factions to join the Sicilians, he served as a sort of middleman between the two sides,” de Champlain said.

Rizzuto, the reputed head of Montreal’s Mafia, was released from a U.S. prison in October and returned to Canada.

He returned to an organization that had been battered by police sweeps since he was arrested in 2004.

Several of his closest family members and confidants were slain in the past few years, including Rizzuto’s father and his son, who were both gunned down.

His brother-in-law has been missing for two years and is presumed dead.

An RCMP analyst testified earlier this year that a Calabrian faction had taken control of the Mafia in Montreal, but after Sunday’s slaying of Di Maulo, de Champlain said he’s not sure how secure that hold is.

“It’s hard to say since Mr. Di Maulo represented the head of the Calabrian factions in Montreal,” de Champlain said.

cyprus

‘Mafiosi’ stand to gain most from EU bail-out of Cyprus


Russian oligarchs and “mafiosi” who have parked their illegal earnings inside the country stand to benefit most from an EU bail-out of Cyprus, according to a report by Germany’s intelligence agency.

Cyprus’s request for a bailout has created a political headache for German Chancellor Angela Merkel on concerns wealthy Russians could be the chief beneficiaries, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel said on Sunday, citing a report prepared by Germany’s intelligence agency (BND)

Cyprus is in talks with international lenders on the terms of a bailout expected to total €10bn (£8bn) after its two largest banks incurred huge losses due to the Greek debt writedown earlier this year.
The scale of the aid is tiny compared to Greece and other struggling eurozone countries.
The BND report on money laundering in Cyprus has laid bare the political risks involved, Spiegel said.
“The report of the BND shows who will profit most of all from the billions in European taxpayer funds – Russian oligarchs, businesspeople and mafiosi who have parked their illegal earnings in Cyprus,” the magazine said.

Cyprus is a popular offshore tax haven for Russian businesses seeking protection from their country’s unpredictable investment climate.
But Cyprus, which joined the European Union in 2004, says it has strengthened its regulations over the past decade against money laundering and is in full conformity with international rules.
Spiegel, citing the “secret” BND report and European officials, said significant doubts persisted over Cypriot implementation of these regulations.
The BND report found that Russian nationals held some $26bn (£16.2bn) in Cypriot bank accounts, Spiegel said, dwarfing both the emergency aid the eurozone is likely to provide and the country’s total national output of about €17bn.
Cypriot authorities do not provide a breakdown of bank deposits based on nationality, but Russians are believed to make up a large proportion of non-domiciled accounts.
Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy, would provide more than €2bn towards the expected Cypriot bailout. But Germans are angry about having to stump up billions of euros to rescue Greece and other heavily indebted economies.
Carsten Schneider of Germany’s main opposition Social Democrats, which hopes to oust Merkel’s conservatives in an election due next year, said his party would only vote in parliament in favour of aid for Cyprus on certain conditions.
He said Cyprus must be ready to adjust its low corporate tax rate and crack down further on money laundering.
Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has to approve the payment of financial aid for eurozone countries.

Source: Reuters

yakuza2

New anti-yakuza legislation comes into effect to clamp down on gangs

FUKUOKA — A new law came into effect Tuesday aimed at further reducing the ability of organized crime gang members to target local businesses for extortion.

The revision to the 1991 Anti-Organized Crime Law was drawn up in response a series of attacks carried out on businesses by suspected gang members, particularly in the Kyushu region, say police.

The new laws will enable police to arrest on the spot anyone who is believed to be engaging in gang activities, such as extorting protection money from local business owners, Fuji TV reported.

Police say the new laws will be used to restrict the activities of the Kudokai, Dojinkai and Kyushu Seidokai crime gangs based in Fukuoka Prefecture. Kitakyushu has been a hotbed of criminal activity with several attacks on businesses in the last month.

NPA Commissioner General Yutaka Katagiri told a news conference that the success of the new law in Fukuoka will set an example for the rest of the country.

Japan Today

2012_albanian

An Albanian organized crime network were arrested by the Joint Investigation Team

The 48 members of an Albanian organized crime network were arrested on 16 October in Mulhouse, France. The case was handled by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) consisted of the French National Border Police (PAF) and the German National Criminal Police, with the support of Eurojust and Europol. 400 police officers, investigators and prosecutors from several European law enforcement agencies and prosecution offices participated in the operation.

The investigations started two years ago mainly in Germany, France and Switzerland, where the criminals were operating. For this purpose a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement was drafted in early 2012. Eurojust supported JIT operations by providing € 52.000. In addition to this, Eurojust helped also the management of the case with the assistance of its Case Analysis Unit. Europol from the other hand helped the French, German and Swiss law enforcement authorities to the exchange of operational information (cross-matching and tailored intelligence analysis in real-time etc).

The suspects were accused for trafficking heroin and cocaine, for illegal immigration and for using counterfeit documents. After the simultaneous arrests in France, Germany and Switzerland, cocaine and heroin were discovered in apartments, automobiles and hotel rooms. Also a hidden storage area in a forrest was discovered by the French police officers.

After the operation, Mr Nicolas Chareyre, Assistant to the National Member for France, commented: “In this case, Eurojust and Europol worked hand in hand for two years, offering to investigators and judges of Member States and third States their operational and financial support and analytical expertise. This very successful case is a good example of the complementarity of both agencies in the fight against organised crime networks.”

Source: neurope.eu