Must-read report by InSight Crime Co-Director Steven Dudley for the US Congress’ Central America Caucus:
How Drug Trafficking Operates, Corrupts in Central America
Some of the transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) have familiar names: the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas, and the Urabeños all have operatives in Central America. They purchase cocaine or coca base from producer nations like Colombia and Peru. And they oversee the movement of that product from production point to market.
In Central America, they oversee the second tier criminal organizations in these countries that provide the transportation for the illicit drugs. These so-called “transportistas” are often family-based groups with long criminal histories in contraband, human smuggling and other criminal activities, which give them a strong foundation to jump into narcotics trafficking.
Examples include the Cachiros, a Honduran-based organization that once controlled a prominent route through northern Honduras, betweenNicaragua and Guatemala. The Cachiros started as cattle rustlers who sold their stolen cattle to one of the country’s most prominent elite families. Over the years, their land titles grew as did their role in illicit trafficking. By September 2013, the year the United States Treasury Departmentplaced them on its “Kingpin” list, the Cachiros had accumulated anywhere between $500 million and $800 million in assets, much of which they had put into African Palm plantations, mining licenses, hotels, a prominent zoo-resort, and a local soccer team.
Read the whole thing.