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Chinese Organized Crime in Latin America

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Journal Article

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Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University Fort Lesley J. McNair United States

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In June 2010, the sacking of Secretary of Justice Romeu Tuma Jnior for allegedly being an agent of the Chinese mafia rocked Brazilian politics.1 Three years earlier, in July 2007, the head of the Colombian national police, General Oscar Naranjo, made the striking proclamation that the arrival of the Chinese and Russian mafias in Mexico and all of the countries in the Americas is more than just speculation.2 Although, to date, the expansion of criminal ties between the Peoples Republic of China PRC and Latin America has lagged behind the exponential growth of trade and investment between the two regions, the incidents mentioned above highlight that criminal ties between the regions are becoming an increasingly problematic by-product of expanding ChinaLatin America interactions, with troubling implications for both regions. Although data to quantify the character and extent of such ties are lacking, public evidence suggests that criminal activity spanning the two regions is principally concentrated in four current domains and two potentially emerging areas. The four groupings of current criminal activity between China and Latin America are extortion of Chinese communities in Latin America by groups with ties to China, trafficking in persons from China through Latin America into the United States or Canada, trafficking in narcotics and precursor chemicals, and trafficking in contraband goods. The two emerging areas are arms trafficking and money laundering.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Government and Political Science

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