NEW PUBLICATION: “Following the Money Trail” to Combat Terrorism, Crime, and Corruption in the Americas

Over the past decade, there has been a greater appreciation of how “following the money trail” directly contributes to the fight against terrorism, crime, and corruption around the world. Money serves as the oxygen for any activity, licit or illicit; it is the critical enabler for any organization, from international crime syndicates like the Mexican cartels to terrorist groups like the FARC, ISIS, and Hezbollah. Financial intelligence has helped governments to better understand, detect, disrupt, and counter criminal and terrorist networks and expose political corruption.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States and its Latin American partners have strengthened their ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and consciously incorporated the financial instrument of national power into their national security strategies. “Following the money trail,” counterterrorism, and Drug Kingpin sanctions and asset forfeiture have become particularly important to attack narco-insurgencies, dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), and address political corruption scandals that have reached the highest levels of governments across Latin America.

This report focuses on the threats from money laundering and terrorist financing, distinguishing the two, and explains government efforts to counter illicit financing. It describes the ways illicit actors raise, move, store, and use money to pursue their dangerous agendas. Specific cases examining the FARC in Colombia, the 2015 fall of the Guatemalan government, and Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash” corruption scandal illustrate how governments use financial intelligence to pursue terrorists, criminals, corrupt politicians, and their financiers in Latin America. Finally, the report emphasizes the need to design, implement, and constantly update national and international strategies to combat the financing of emerging threats like terrorism, crime, and corruption and to safeguard our financial systems.

Download the report

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UPCOMING EVENT | Mexico and the NAFTA Negotiations

WHEN: Tuesday, August 15, 9:00-11:00 AM

WHERE: Wilson Center

Click to RSVP

Negotiators from the United States, Mexico, and Canada are set to begin an intense effort to modernize the NAFTA agreement on August 16, 2017. Please join us on August 15th, the eve of the opening round, for a discussion of Mexico’s approach to the negotiations.

The United States Trade Representative recently announced the U.S. objectives for a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a step that was required by U.S. trade law. Many of the stated goals will be shared by Mexico and Canada, but others will be controversial.

Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, recently announced that Mexico will not make a similar official statement of objectives, but top officials have been clear that they will seek to expand, rather than restrict trade within North America. To better understand Mexico’s goals and strategy as the negotiations begin, we have invited three of Mexico’s top trade experts, including two former officials and the current head of Mexico’s NAFTA office in Washington, DC. We hope you can join us for what promises to be an interesting and important conversation.

Introduction
Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Speakers
Kenneth Smith, Director of the Trade and NAFTA Office, Embassy of Mexico, Washington, DC

Francisco de Rosenzweig, Partner, White & Case LLP; Former Undersecretary for Foreign Trade, Ministry of the Economy, Mexico

Luz Maria de la Mora, Director, LMM Consulting; Former Unit Chief for Economic Relations and International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico

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Commentary | Why renegotiating NAFTA will expand economic growth

7/27/2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune

By Earl Anthony Wayne, Global Fellow & Advisory Board Member, Mexico Institute

NAFTA 2.0 is a big opportunity for San Diego and the entire U.S.-Mexico border region. With a good “modernization” of the 1993 treaty, the U.S.-Mexico border can expand economic growth and continue to be one of the most dynamic regions in North America. Elected officials and business groups from the border region should organize to weigh in regularly with the government negotiating teams and elected representatives in the months ahead to assure a good outcome.

Voices from the border cities and states must be well organized to have their voices heard in Washington and in Mexico City. Happily, San Diego and Tijuana are hosting mayors from throughout the region for the Border Mayors Association Binational Summit this week. This is an important opportunity for mayors to pursue a shared agenda.

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Till death do us part: US, Mexico inextricably linked

3/9/2017 The Hill

By Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute

us mex flagIt has often been noted that the U.S.-Mexico relationship is like a marriage — it has its ups and downs, disputes and romances, but, essentially, the two countries are tied together.

Nonetheless, abusive language can be highly destructive. While the recent turmoil in the relationship may not be lead to divorce, there is a very real danger of estrangement if the two nations do not receive the right counseling.

The current marital conflict has far-reaching impacts, and the urgency of reaffirming the bilateral relation transcends the diplomatic rhetoric of the need for mere peaceful coexistence between neighboring nations.

Can Mexico cope with Trump?

12/7/2016 Foreign Policy 

Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped)Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory could very well transform the United States’ economic relations with the rest of the world. Perhaps the most dramatic changes will be felt by Mexico. During his election campaign, Trump proposed building a massive border wall, deporting millions of undocumented Mexican workers, renegotiating NAFTA, and imposing high tariffs of up to 35 percent on Mexican exports to the United States.

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‘Impunity has consequences’: the women lost to Mexico’s drug war

12/8/2016 The Guardian 

drug_war_02Lizbeth Amores dropped off her son at her mother’s house before heading to a house party with her friend Verenice Guevara. They were last seen at a bar popular with local gangsters.

The following night, María de Jesús Marthen was among a dozen or so young women invited to a private party at a ranch about an hour east of the city centre. On her way to the event, Marthen messaged her boyfriend, pleading for help.

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Mexico’s war on drugs: what has it achieved and how is the US involved?

12/8/2016 The Guardian 

drug warWhy did Mexico launch its war on drugs?

On 10 December 2006, the newly inaugurated president, Felipe Calderón, launched Mexico’s war on drugs by sending 6,500 troops into his home state of Michoacán, where rival cartels were engaged in tit-for-tat massacres as they battled over lucrative territory. The surge in violence had started in 2005, and a string of police and military operations by his predecessor Vicente Fox had failed to stem the bloodshed.

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