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Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) in Latin America are undergoing significant transformations, driven by new alliances with extra-regional actors and supported by ideologically flexible authoritarian governments. These changes pose serious threats to democratic governance, the rule of law, and U.S. strategic interests in the hemisphere. The emergence of new actors, markets, and products is causing fragmentation among traditional groups while consolidating criminal economies through alliances with entities such as the Italian 'Ndrangheta, Albanian trafficking clans, and Turkish crime syndicates. This paper examines the evolving transnational criminal ecosystem in Latin America, highlighting the creation of new markets and convergence centers for extra-regional actors. The diversification of criminal activities is leading to a volatile reordering of criminal economies and relationships among TCOs, with long-term strategic implications for the United States and its allies.

Publication Date

Summer 6-19-2024


Florida International University



Fourth Transnational Criminal Wave: New Extra Regional Actors and Shifting Markets Transform Latin America’s Illicit Economies and Transnational Organized Crime Alliances



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