Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Transnational Crime 'Abiding Threat' to National Security: US Intelligence

US intelligence chief James Clapper declared before a Senate committee that transnational criminal organizations, particularly those from Latin America, were an "abiding threat to US economic and national security interests." What particularly worries the US intelligence community is not only the current state and sophistication of Latin American transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), but their evolution, and their potential to develop ties not only with groups on the US list of terrorist organizations, but with foreign states and foreign intelligence agencies.

As far as Latin America is concerned, organized crime presents the single greatest threat to governments in the region, among them key US allies like Mexico, Colombia and El Salvador. Other countries under even greater threat from crime are Honduras, with one of the highest murder rates in the world, along with Guatemala, and the tiny nation of Belize.

In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper mentioned the criminal activities that finance TCOs, and which are on the rise due to the globalized economy. He mentioned human smuggling, and the increase in kidnappings for ransom. He had Mexico in mind when he said this, but other nations in Latin America are seeing significant increases in kidnapping, among them Venezuela and smaller nations like Haiti and Paraguay. Clapper sees human trafficking as an increasingly attractive option to TCOs, due to what he described as a high profit, low risk dynamic. Human trafficking is seen as a higher risk activity for the US, due to the possibility that networks could be used to smuggle in terrorists interested in launching attacks within the mainland United States.

The US intelligence community sees a deepening relationship between terrorism and organized crime. Clapper stated that he believes terrorist organizations will "increasingly turn to crime and criminal networks for funding and logistics." Perhaps the best Latin American examples of this are Colombian rebel groups the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which are both involved in cocaine and heroin trafficking as well as kidnapping and extortion.

Click here to read the full article from InSight



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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