Updated: Mar 15
National security expert warned that criminal organizations have better resources than governments that must fight them.
The Americas Are Not Prepared to Confront and Combat New Forms of Organized Crime:
The Phenomenon of Digitalization.
by Maibort Petit
In times of globalization, the governments of the Americas confront organized crime organizations without having the necessary resources to do so, while they are constantly updated with all the elements and tools offered by technology.
The warning was made by
Celina Realuyo, a professor at the "William J. Perry" Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington DC, United States,
during the Parliamentary Forum on Intelligence and Security, Guatemala City that takes place under the auspices of the Congress of that Central American republic.
The expert on national security issues, warned that the advances and technological benefits of the globalized world bring with it are also available to agents of organized crime, which, taking advantage of the advantages offered by the interconnected world, have intensified drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrants and the irregular arms trade.
Realuyo showed the dark side of globalization and referred to the factors that contribute to the globalization of illicit networks in Latin America and the Caribbean.
1. Insecurity and corruption
Celina Realuyo made it clear that corruption is the basic condition for armed and criminal groups to promote their "nefarious agendas", because the institutionalism is very weak, hindering the maintenance of order and peace in these democracies, usually very young.
Citizen insecurity also prevails as a result of inequality, a situation that is exploited by external actors who interfere in the political, social and economic affairs of the countries of the region. To this are added the natural disasters characteristic of the region.
2. Convergence of illicit networks
In the Americas, the US is the destination country for drugs and irregular migrants, while also being the largest exporter of arms and dirty money.
Realuyo warns that we should no longer talk about producing, transit and consumption countries, because the countries of the region with the scourge of the development of synthetic drugs are already in the three phases.
She explains that today there is talk of a cyber-physical world, because all these illicit activities of the real world, now complement each other in cyberspace – through the promotion and online sale of products and services – and also enriching and empowering illicit networks, whether criminal or terrorist.
About the Author
Maibort Petit is a Venezuelan writer, researcher and political scientist specialized in Transnational Organized Crime. Based in New York, she works for various Hispanic media outlets and as a consultant for various firms in New York and Washington DC.
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3. The impact of Covid-19
Although organized crime crimes are not new concepts, Celina Realuyo says that with globalization they have increased in terms of magnitude, speed and wealth. It indicates that criminal and/or terrorist groups now have more resources to buy more technology, which often exceeds that of the security services in charge of countering these phenomena.
During the pandemic, these criminals and/or terrorist groups adapted to new technologies and took advantage of cyberspace to multiply their illicit markets.
4. Illicit financial flows
Celina Realuyo reports that criminal and/or terrorist organizations use cyberspace and cryptocurrencies to expand their options to launder and hide money from their activities.
5. Empowered illicit economy
Illicit networks have been empowered, according to the expert, who says that the Darknet and cryptocurrencies offer opportunities to gain a foothold.
Meanwhile, they are getting stronger,
governments are far behind the news of the digitization of illicit networks.
In addition, during the pandemic, criminal and/or terrorist groups amplified and expanded their markets into cyberspace.
6. Social networks facilitate illicit networks
Celina Realuyo reports that social networks facilitate drug trafficking, human trafficking, the recruitment of young people by gangs, cartels, terrorists, due to the impossibility of being able to establish a monitoring of them.
7. Spectrum of cyber threats
There is a spectrum of cyber threats—cyberattacks and cyber-security—in terms of nation-state; as are cybercrimes; in addition to activism with more political motivations and the use of the Internet by criminal and/or terrorist groups.
8. Competition of the great powers
The three great powers—the United States, China, and Russia—compete with each other and seek to influence the Americas and the events taking place in this hemisphere.
9. Rivalry between the US, China and Russia
Celina Realuyo indicates that each country – not only the United States, China and Russia – has certain instruments of national power, such as diplomacy, armed forces, information, economic tools, observing in the region a strategic investment by the three powers in many countries of the Americas.
They do this according to their interests, being the information, the false news in social networks, the manipulation of the latter, tools to give a positive impression, as above all, to affect the image of certain rulers of the region.
10. The grey area
The security expert explains that as a gray area is known the intermediate period between peace and war, time in which it is difficult to face an adversary.
At this time operate the cursed states, autocratic governments such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and in our hemisphere to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba; also, the illicit networks that are exploited by criminal networks because in the gray area there are no rules of behavior; in hybrid warfare all the instruments of power are mixed to attack and degrade the national state.
11. Digitization of illicit networks
Celina Realuyo explains that it operates a digitalization of illicit networks, which evolve and adapt faster than the governments responsible for promoting security and prosperity.
This is a risk for the Americas, since the licit economy and the financial system are being undermined; insecurity increases; illicit groups or certain parties are investigating how to take advantage of cyberspace to destabilize society.
12. Cooperation required
Finally, Celina Realuyo warns of the need for interagency cooperation as an effort by all governments, but also an international effort to confront and combat the digitization of illicit networks in the new world order.