Throughout Latin America, organized crime is a serious and growing problem. Clandestine power groups are in part responsible for the surge in crime rates and, in some countries, have accumulated vast influence over government institutions.
WOLA’s report “The Captive State” proposes a new perspective on organized crime in Latin America. Instead of merely a law enforcement issue, organized crime has become in some countries a fundamental threat to democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Illicit structures can permeate the state so thoroughly that it ceases to represent the interests of citizens and instead represents the interests of criminal enterprises. Taking Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Peru as case studies, the report offers a review of their experiences grappling with organized crime and ends with policy recommendations for governments, civil society groups and the international community.