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Column 010515 Brewer

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Western Hemisphere faces Serious Crime Challenges in 2015

By Jerry Brewer

Latin America and the Caribbean are today being described as the “most dangerous regions in the world.” Quite a claim given the massive violence, atrocities and death in the Middle East and other regions of the globe.

With Latin America registering the majority of the world’s most dangerous cities and regions, just what does this mean to the United States, Mexico and other nations to the south in this new year?

There are those who write off the causes of the record setting homicides, brutality and savagery as simply income and social inequality. However there are many regions and cultures throughout the world that sustain similar socioeconomic maladies and have for decades, yet they report far less death and savagery from crime.

We have learned in this hemisphere, over the last decade or so, that there is a sinister correlation between organized crime and terror. Criminal opportunities and major markets for huge profits are all that are needed for organized crime to place a stranglehold on a populace.

Increased drug trafficking proliferated in the early 1980s, and continued largely due to a hedonistic and incredible demand for drugs in the U.S.  Many billions of dollars a year – some estimate up to US$80 billion paid for drugs annually in the U.S. alone, with much in these proceeds simply handed away to transnational criminals, local gangs and other thugs to grow and prosper in U.S. cities; and throughout the hemisphere. Most of those swimming in the highly illicit profits could never imagine reverting back to, or working again for, average world wages and lifestyles.

The hedonist mentality, in some cases, is to ignore and look beyond astronomic and miscreant inflicted deaths and victim tolls of the trade, focusing instead on what is described as prohibition, this as whoever calls for drug legalization.  In delusional rationalizations, many claim that an end of the so-called prohibition will make all the greed and killings simply disappear from all these regions.

Federal, state and local police, as well as those in nations to our south – plus their militaries, know and share the realities that drug trafficking is but one facet of aggressive and dangerous transnational organized crime and terror.  

Officials also know that organized crime groups and gangs may sacrifice some drug trafficking activities in order to reap revenue from replacement endeavors and contraband.  However, considering demand, don’t look for many of the addictive drugs and deliriants to just go away.  A black market for drugs will remain; regardless of any government acquiesce to liberal hedonistic demands. As well, drug potency levels continue to rise for a reason.

Societal demands for unlawful products and services that generate or enhance the “pleasure of the individual” continue to grow in this hemisphere, and those involved continue to produce misery and despair in the nations in their path.  Through illicit labor forces and means, organized criminals and their henchmen intensify demand, as well as their abilities to deliver, enforce and take with impunity, the latter including human lives.

This organized crime-terror nexus has a norm and nuclei of fear and intimidation that includes murder, kidnapping, extortion, political tampering, torture, and human and sex trafficking. The killing and kidnapping of government officials, politicians, police chiefs, mayors, members of the military, and journalists graphically demonstrate the presence of an out of control criminal insurgency.

How could it possibly be true that drug sales might be even remotely substituted for, as an example, human trafficking?  Human and sex trafficking is very appealing compared to drug sales that systematically require more drugs, while facing high risks and sophisticated enforcement.  Compare this with the ownership and use of human/sex laborers over and over again, as long as they are alive and capable and can abundantly be replaced.

While Latin America has eight percent of the world’s population, it is the region where 40 percent of the world’s homicides and 66 percent of the kidnappings for ransom are committed. 

Argentina is now the second largest domestic market for cocaine in Latin America, after Brazil. It has become both a major market and transit point in the world drug trade.  As well, Argentina is currently “a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking,” according to the U.S. State Department. 

In Mexico, human rights activist and former congresswoman Rosi Orozco (PAN, DF) claims that more than 800,000 adults and 20,000 children a year are trafficked for sexual exploitation. The U.S. State Department estimates that at least 100,000 Latin Americans are trafficked internationally each year. It has identified Spain, Italy, Portugal, the United States, and Japan as major destination countries for Latin American trafficking victims.  Panama has been a destination for women from Colombia and Central America trafficked “to work in the sex industry.”

The average murder rate for the countries of the Caribbean is 30 per 100,000 residents. A challenging world comparison graphically demonstrates the murder rate “in Europe is 8.9 per 100,000 residents, while that for the Western Pacific region is 3.4 and in Southeast Asia it is 5.8.” 

There can be no question or doubt that this hemisphere must do everything necessary in 2015, and not just tread water, to enforce the rule of law and safeguard human rights, human dignity, and respect for human life.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.

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