América Latina / Crimen Organizado

New priorities and results in combating organised crime

30 January 2020
Vania Bonalberti, de la Comisión Europea, cierra el Encuentro de Programa 2019
Vania Bonalberti, de la Comisión Europea, cierra el Encuentro de Programa 2019

2019 marked an important stage in the implementation of the EL PAcCTO programme, with the continuation and consolidation of work in several fields of action. Several important advances have been achieved and some initial tangible results have been seen in recent months. The creation of the first Binational Police Cooperation Centre in Latin America  is a clear result of the willingness of countries in the region to strengthen police cooperation, particularly at the cross-border level.

The first meeting of the central judicial cooperation authorities, together with the prosecution services of the various Latin American countries, offered concrete perspectives with a view to expediting cooperation between Justice stakeholders. Something that is much needed in a context in which organised crime knows no borders. In terms of inter-institutional coordination, several advances have been made with the creation of the first Specialised Multidisciplinary Teams (SMTs) in some Latin American countries. In adittion, the holding of national dialogue round tables for the main players in the fight against organised crime constitutes a first step in the creation of national coordination systems, allowing a more fluid interface between institutions.

Finally, the development of international cooperation through the creation and strengthening of networks has been a milestone of 2019. In particular, it is important to highlight the creation of REDCOPEN, the first network for global cooperation on penitentiary matters. Police networks have also been created to combat environmental crimes (Jaguar Network), cybercrime (ELIPSIA Network), money laundering (UELLA Network) and weapons. Some of them are already active, addressing specific cases to improve the fight against various types of crime.

New priorities in 2020

2020 will be the peak year of the EL PAcCTO programme, with more than 230 activities scheduled. The plan is to concentrate effort into fewer lines of work to consolidate the work processes promoted over the past few months. The 2020 programme is particularly ambitious, living up to the expectations of the participating countries and rising to the challenges involved in the fight against transnational organised crime.

Some of the main priorities for this new year are as follows:

  • Deprivation of the proceeds of crime. This is, without a doubt, one of the fundamental issues when it comes to effectively fighting crime. Conducting asset investigations, identifying criminal assets, along with the confiscation, recovery and management of these assets, which will come as a very hard blow to organised groups. It will be the central theme of the Annual Meeting of the 2020 Programme and of several important activities this year.
  • Strengthening the political dialogue with Latin American countries. While the fight against transnational organised crime requires effective cooperation in police, judicial and penitentiary matters, it is also necessary to consider the joint elaboration —across multiple countries— of public policies and/or effective strategies to fight criminal phenomena. This definition must be based on an objective assessment of the threats that exist. In this regard, EL PAcCTO proposes the creation of a Latin American Committee for Internal Security (CLASI), based on the European COSI model and made up of the interior or security ministers of the volunteer countries. In addition, the Programme will support the development of an Instrument for Documentation and Threat Assessment in Latin America (IDEAL);
  • International cooperation is a fundamental element of the EL PAcCTO programme. In 2020, efforts will be made to activate all the networks created and ensure that they begin to operate effectively in specific cases. It is also intended to support the implementation of the first Joint Investigation Teams (JIT), a model that has demonstrated its effectiveness in the prosecution of transnational organised crimes;
  • Strengthening inter-institutional coordination remains an absolute priority because an isolated institution cannot effectively fight a multifaceted problem. In 2020, several SMTs are expected to be created in various Latin American countries. They are focused on environmental crimes, trafficking in human beings, or economic crimes such as money laundering and corruption.

2020 will also be marked by a considerable increase in activities in the Programme’s cross-cutting areas. There will be an initial workshop on the fight against corruption, joint cybercrime-money laundering activities involving cryptocurrencies, and an operational approach to gender and organised crime issues.

With the commitment of the partner institutions and their stakeholders, strong determination from that responsible and maximum mobilisation of the Programme teams and the institutions providing expertise, we intend to live up to our ambitions and be increasingly effective in the fight against crime. Now more than ever: We are EL PAcCTO!