“fbi and trump” – Google News: The Trump Administration Keeps Pointing To A Secret Terror Watch List. Not Everyone On It Is A Terrorist. – BuzzFeed News

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

The Trump Administration Keeps Pointing To A Secret Terror Watch List. Not Everyone On It Is A Terrorist.  BuzzFeed News

“For secret reasons, without meaningful recourse, people can be placed on this list. It’s terrifying.”

“fbi and trump” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi” – Google News: FBI helping with search for missing mom, kids – 11Alive.com WXIA

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

FBI helping with search for missing mom, kids  11Alive.com WXIA

Kenyah Randall-Edwards, 16, is thought to be in Monroe or Covington in Georgia or Brooklyn in New York according to the National Center for Missing and …

“fbi” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi surveillance” – Google News: Johnson City bank robber suspected in Middle Tennessee heist – Johnson City Press (subscription)

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Johnson City bank robber suspected in Middle Tennessee heist  Johnson City Press (subscription)

Authorities said the man who robbed a Middle Tennessee bank Tuesday is the same man who robbed a Johnson City bank, as well as one in Asheville, North …

“fbi surveillance” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“mueller” – Google News: Democrats threaten to subpoena Whitaker over Mueller probe, discussions with Trump – Greenwich Time

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Democrats threaten to subpoena Whitaker over Mueller probe, discussions with Trump  Greenwich Time

WASHINGTON – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is preparing to subpoena acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to testify before the …

“mueller” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Democrats threaten to subpoena Whitaker over Mueller probe, discussions with Trump – SFGate

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Democrats threaten to subpoena Whitaker over Mueller probe, discussions with Trump  SFGate

WASHINGTON – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is preparing to subpoena acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to testify before the …

“house judiciary committee” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi scandal” – Google News: Former University of Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson takes plea agreement – Arizona Daily Star

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Former University of Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson takes plea agreement  Arizona Daily Star

Former Arizona assistant basketball coach Book Richardson pleaded guilty to one count of federal funds bribery Monday, part of a plea agreement related to the …

“fbi scandal” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi scandal” – Google News: Chicago mayoral candidates keep pushing ethics plans after Ald. Edward Burke corruption charge – Chicago Tribune

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Chicago mayoral candidates keep pushing ethics plans after Ald. Edward Burke corruption charge  Chicago Tribune

The cavalcade of government ethics reform proposals kept coming from Chicago mayoral candidates Tuesday amid the fallout from powerful Ald. Edward Burke …

“fbi scandal” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites): InSight Crime: Guatemala President Causes Constitutional Crisis to Oust CICIG

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Guatemala President Causes Constitutional Crisis to Oust CICIG

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales has pushed his country to the brink of a constitutional crisis in his eagerness to rid himself of the anti-corruption commission that has accused him of illegally financing the election campaign that brought him into power.

Morales’ hunger to oust the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG) — an entity funded by multiple countries that acts as a sort of adjunct prosecutorial body alongside the Attorney General’s Office — has reached the point where he has violated court orders and illegally used security forces to carry out his plans.

On January 7, the Guatemalan foreign affairs minister delivered a letter to the United Nations in New York stating that the Morales administration had unilaterally decided to terminate the agreement that founded the CICIG.

Morales said he was revoking his government’s recognition of the CICIG because its officials “participated in illegal acts such as malfeasance, abuse of authority, acts against the constitution [and] illegal orders and sedition.” He also accused the commission of exceeding its powers.

In conjunction with the letter to the UN, Morales held a televised press conference at the presidential palace to announce his decision. To defend his position, the president put forward the cases of businesspeople, a former government official and a Russian citizen whom the CICIG had investigated for crimes ranging from using false documents to committing extrajudicial executions. So far, only the Russian citizen has been convicted, but Morales claimed that all of them were victims of arbitrary actions on the part of the CICIG and the Attorney General’s Office.

Since its arrival in the Central American country a decade ago, and especially during the past four years, the CICIG has helped the Attorney General’s Office to solve corruption and organized crime cases involving legislators, mayors, important business leaders and even former presidents, many of whom are now in prison.

In fact, the president and those who joined him behind the podium at his press conference on Monday are a prime example of the powerful figures whom the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office and the CICIG have shaken with their investigations.

Among the people the president used to justify his newest attack on the CICIG are the following:

  • Relatives of former Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann. The CICIG investigated Vielmann for his alleged participation in extrajudicial executions committed by the National Civil Police, which he headed during the 2000s. Internal CICIG documents to which InSight Crime had access established that in January 2009, the commission investigated Vielmann as a “member of an organized group” within the Guatemalan government that participated in an inmate massacre at the Pavón prison and in the murder of three Salvadoran representatives of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) and their driver. A court in Spain, where Vielmann holds citizenship, acquitted him of his charges in connection with the Pavón prison massacre, and the Parlacen investigations were discontinued in Guatemala. In October 2018, the CICIG and the Attorney General’s Office presented another case against Vielmann, this time for his alleged role in the extrajudicial executions of inmates who had escaped from a prison known as El Infiernito (Little Hell) in 2005. Vielmann was interior minister during the presidency of Óscar Berger and known to be very close to Guatemala’s economic elites.
  • The Valdés Paiz family. InSight Crime published a detailed report on the elites in Guatemala in 2016 that revealed the possible participation of brothers Francisco and José Valdés Paiz in a criminal plot that culminated in a lawyer named Rodrigo Rosemberg committing suicide. One of Rosemberg’s clients was Luis Mendizábal, a shadowy political and intelligence operator whose name US legislators have requested be added to a list of people sanctioned for connections to organized crime. The Attorney General’s Office accused the Valdés Paiz brothers of masterminding Rosemberg’s death. In August 2017, an appellate court closed the case against them for lack of evidence.
  • The Bitkov family. Igor Bitkov is a Russian citizen who was convicted in Guatemala for buying false documents from a criminal organization embedded in the country’s immigration department. In 2010, when Bitkov bought the documents, the Attorney General’s Office was investigating a criminal network specializing in immigration fraud. The AG’s Office included current Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart in its investigation as a suspected member of the network. Degenhart is also one of Morales’ main allies. On December 28, a judge sentenced Bitkov to five years in prison. The case gained importance because, with the help of lobbyists and a US news columnist, Republican legislators used it in an attempt to stop the CICIG’s investigations, alleging that the commission was colluding with the Russian government to persecute the Bitkovs. However, the US State Department under President Donald Trump denied that possibility.

Of course, the main protagonist of the press conference was Morales, who himself has been investigated by the CICIG and the Attorney General’s Office for alleged illicit campaign financing. Once again, as he did before the UN plenary session in September 2018, the Guatemalan president accused the CICIG — and by consequence the AG’s Office — of violating the law. He also, once again, placed himself at the helm of a show of force intended to remove the commission from the country. Only this time it is in direct violation of multiple Guatemalan Constitutional Court orders already issued in favor of the CICIG, and other court rulings such as the one that sentenced Igor Bitkov to serve jail time, not attend a press conference.

In another violation of a court ruling, the Morales government ordered the police to cordon off La Aurora International Airport in an attempt to prevent a Colombian CICIG investigator from entering Guatemala. A court had previously ruled that foreign CICIG officials could not be denied their visas.

InSight Crime Analysis

For now, Morales’ unilateral termination of the agreement that created the CICIG will have no concrete ramifications. The commission’s mandate was already set to expire in September 2019, and several legal steps that supersede Morales’ decision — at least in theory — would have to be followed to cut the mandate short.

The CICIG’s existence is regulated by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), which the Guatemalan government signed and ratified. Article 14 of the agreement signed between Guatemala and the UN states that the CICIG lasts for two years following each renewal, and Morales himself renewed it last year, which puts the commission’s expiration date at September 3, 2019.

The same agreement holds that if one of the parties wishes to unilaterally terminate it, that party must give 12 months’ advance notice, which would be impossible to do at this point because the agreement only has eight more months before it expires.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutérres said on Monday that he rejected the Guatemalan petition and reiterated that the CICIG will remain intact at least until the end of its current mandate.

One thing that has remained clear throughout the events of the past few days is that the Guatemalan business elites who used to support the CICIG now seem to be joining Morales’ camp regardless of the consequences. In an immediate reaction to the president’s announcement, Guatemala’s business leaders gave their own press conference to endorse his decision.

But Morales’ latest moves have pushed other actors to position themselves more clearly in favor of the CICIG and corruption investigations, or to reiterate their unwavering support for the organization’s efforts.

Such is the case with the Guatemalan government’s attempt to block the entry of the Colombian CICIG official, Yilen Osorio, into the country on Saturday. The situation motivated Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who until then had made only lukewarm efforts to challenge Morales, to order the arrest of the executive officials who tried to deport him.

On the other hand, Congressional President Álvaro Arzú Escobar, who is the son of late former president Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen — himself the target of CICIG and AG Office investigations — has said that there were votes to support the president’s decision to terminate the CICIG agreement. According to Guatemalan law, however, such a decision by Congress would only be symbolic.

In the United States, one of the CICIG’s largest donors, positions have also become clearer. When Trump entered the presidency, the unquestionable support previously maintained by the Obama administration began to wear away, even to the point where Guatemalan officials dared to use military equipment donated by Washington to intimidate the CICIG. But in light of recent events, US Democrats, now in the majority of the House of Representatives, have warned Morales that they will suspend aid to his country and have openly branded him as corrupt.

Moreover, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the Senate’s most influential members on Central American issues, has stated that the Guatemalan president is not welcome in the United States.

However, Morales’ willingness to flout the law begs the question of how far international pressure will go in curtailing his hunger to expel the CICIG from Guatemala, stall the investigations currently underway and prevent new ones from being opened. As of now, he has gone against the country’s judicial authority, which is prohibited by the Constitution, and has demonstrated that he is willing to use government security forces to enforce his decisions, even when they are unlawful.

Morales has sparked a constitutional crisis in Guatemala, and now he is poised to stoke the flames.

The post Guatemala President Causes Constitutional Crisis to Oust CICIG appeared first on InSight Crime.

InSight Crime

Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites)


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“house judiciary committee” – Google News: North Dakota lawmaker brings bill to reform civil asset forf… – Grand Forks Herald

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

North Dakota lawmaker brings bill to reform civil asset forf…  Grand Forks Herald

BISMARCK — Aaron Dorn has a new car. He recently bought a 1995 Toyota Avalon. But it’s not what he previously had as a traveling antique vendor based out …

“house judiciary committee” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi” – Google News: First pictures of Russian businessman held by the FBI a day after Moscow detained former US Marine – Daily Mail

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

First pictures of Russian businessman held by the FBI a day after Moscow detained former US Marine  Daily Mail

Dmitry Makarenko was detained in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, the day after American Paul Nicholas Whelan was …

“fbi” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi” – Google News: FBI investigating white cop for beating black motorist – New York Post

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

FBI investigating white cop for beating black motorist  New York Post

The FBI, the US Attorney’s Office and the local authorities are investigating a white police officer who was recorded brutally beating a black motorist in Ohio in …

“fbi” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Briggs Named Democratic Chairman of House Judiciary Committee – TAPinto.net

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Briggs Named Democratic Chairman of House Judiciary Committee  TAPinto.net

LOWER MERION, PA – On January 7th 2019, Democratic House Leader Frank Dermody named State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery Democratic minority …

“house judiciary committee” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Trump’s Impeachment Trial Is Already Underway – The New Republic

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Trump’s Impeachment Trial Is Already Underway  The New Republic

The debate is no longer about whether his removal is warranted. It’s about the political and practical calculations.

“house judiciary committee” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“mueller” – Google News: Document: D.C. Circuit Upholds Contempt Citation in Mueller Mystery Subpoena Case – Lawfare

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Document: D.C. Circuit Upholds Contempt Citation in Mueller Mystery Subpoena Case  Lawfare

On Tuesday, Judges Tatel, Griffith and Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a contempt citation against the unnamed defendant in In …

“mueller” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“mueller” – Google News: Appeals Court Posts Redacted Opinion In Mystery Mueller-Linked Grand Jury Case – TPM

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Appeals Court Posts Redacted Opinion In Mystery Mueller-Linked Grand Jury Case  TPM

An appeals court on Tuesday publicly posted, with redactions, its opinion upholding a subpoena believed to be linked to special counsel Robert Mueller’s …

“mueller” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“fbi criticism” – Google News: Opinion: Stop obsessing over the “likability” of Elizabeth Warren and every other female politician – HelloGiggles

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Opinion: Stop obsessing over the “likability” of Elizabeth Warren and every other female politician  HelloGiggles

Author Michael Arceneaux discusses Elizabeth Warren’s presidential bid and the media’s sexist obsession with the “likability” of female political candidates.

“fbi criticism” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“mueller” – Google News: Mueller believes Manafort fed information to Russian with intel ties – CNN

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Mueller believes Manafort fed information to Russian with intel ties  CNN

Washington (CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller believes that Paul Manafort was sharing polling data and discussing Russian-Ukrainian policy with his close …

“mueller” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“house judiciary committee” – Google News: The special one: Australia, Ireland and the US working visa fight – The Interpreter

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

The special one: Australia, Ireland and the US working visa fight  The Interpreter

After a lobbying campaign, Australia will retain exclusive access to a special visa allowing people to work in the US.

“house judiciary committee” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“political criminology” – Google News: Brexit news – LIVE: Government defeated after MPs back amendment in bid block no-deal exit – The Independent

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

Brexit news – LIVE: Government defeated after MPs back amendment in bid block no-deal exit  The Independent

The government has suffered a *fresh* defeat over Theresa May’s Brexit strategy after MPs backed an amendment to the Finance Bill that will limit tax powers in …

“political criminology” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“political criminology” – Google News: German hacker behind massive political data leak identified – DW (English)

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

German hacker behind massive political data leak identified  DW (English)

German authorities say a 20-year-old, acting alone, was behind a huge leak of personal data concerning leading politicians and celebrities. The man has …

“political criminology” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites): “political criminology” – Google News: German hacker behind massive political data leak identified – DW (English)

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

German hacker behind massive political data leak identified  DW (English)

German authorities say a 20-year-old, acting alone, was behind a huge leak of personal data concerning leading politicians and celebrities. The man has …

“political criminology” – Google News

Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites)


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites): InSight Crime: GameChangers 2018: Venezuelan Migration a New Gold Mine for Organized Crime

Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares

GameChangers 2018: Venezuelan Migration a New Gold Mine for Organized Crime

Turbulence reigned in 2018, but there was one constant: the flow of Venezuelans fleeing their country. The unceasing migration has left thousands of people homeless, penniless and ripe for exploitation by organized crime groups.

Mariana, a manicurist from the city of Maracaibo, is one example. It took her half a day to cross the border from Venezuela to Colombia. She did not need a passport or any other identification document, nor did she deal with a single immigration official. There weren’t even any rivers to cross. All she had to do was pay a little over 20,000 bolivars and 10,000 Colombian pesos (about $34 in May 2018) — all her savings at the time to reserve one of five seats in a car used by a friend to transport Venezuelans across the border from the state of Zulia via the Colombian town of Paraguachón.

The price, a relatively common amount, feeds into a basic migrant smuggling structure operating in the department of La Guajira in Colombia. People from the indigenous Wayúu population run the operation, which illegally brings Venezuelan migrants into Colombia by the thousands. At least 40 of Mariana’s relatives now live in the Colombian city of Medellín, and they used the same network to leave Venezuela.

The boom in the forced migration of Venezuelans has lasted for more than two years. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimate that approximately three million people have left the country during that time. Most migrants go to Colombia and Brazil, Venezuela’s closest neighbors. Others go to Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Panama, Mexico and the islands of Curaçao, Aruba, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Venezuelan migrant victims of organized crime InSight Crime Map

Among this massive and uncontrolled exodus, innumerable criminal economies and illicit businesses have emerged. The situation has turned the migrants into a commodity. And a rapidly spreading criminal industry is feeding on them with significant potential to replicate the perilous coyote experience between Central America, Mexico, and the United States.

Venezuela has no data estimating the number of migrants who have been smuggled or trafficked. It is also not known how many migrants have been recruited by criminal organizations operating in Colombia as they flee one of the worst crises in Latin America in recent decades.

In a recent study on migrant smuggling, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that at least 2.5 million migrants were victims of smuggling rings worldwide in 2016. Criminal organizations made approximately $7 billion from migrant smuggling.

For Venezuelans, the migration business straddles the border. And the first criminal structure citizens must get through is their own government. Corrupt officials operate with intermediaries to exchange bribes and extort money from people who need passports, police background checks, or certifications for their college degrees. They charge exorbitant rates for their services, often offered through the messaging service WhatsApp.

Most migrants then leave by land where things get treacherous, especially the corridor known as the Guajira peninsula. The peninsula is shared by both Colombia (La Guajira department) and Venezuela (Zulia state). On the Colombian side, human smuggling is dominated by “Los Guajiros,” as the Wayúu people in the area are often called. They impose their own tariffs to allow the movement of vehicles transporting migrants into Colombia through their territory. They also maintain a fleet of vehicles and up to 10 checkpoints on each of the more than 200 “trochas” or improvised roads that connect the two countries. To be able to cross, drivers must make payments at each control point, with the price varying constantly. Migrants or independent transporters who try to best this system not only expose themselves to robbery, abuse and sexual abuse, but also put their lives at risk.

Reports of migrant smuggling operations are growing along Venezuela’s border with Brazil as well, where the networks are run by both Brazilians and Venezuelans.

Other costs and dangers await migrants who go by sea. On the Venezuelan coast closest to Curaçao, Aruba, and Trinidad and Tobago, different modes of human smuggling have been discovered, such as using small fishing boats to transport Venezuelans to the islands, a trip such boats are unfit to make. The cost for the dangerous crossing is $350, slightly more than a plane ticket for the same trajectory. Up to 20 people board the boats at a time. So far, there are few details on how the groups running the trips are organized or how they operate, but the frequent shipwrecks and arrests of the so-called “balseros venezolanos,” or Venezuelan rafters, indicate that it could be a growing industry.

The Hungry and the Enslaved

Poverty, hunger and limited access to health services and medicine have been the engine driving the mass migration of Venezuelans, and it is only accelerating. In 2017, 87 percent of the Venezuelan population was living in poverty, according to the National Survey of Living Conditions of the Venezuelan Population (Encuesta Nacional de Condiciones de Vida de la Población Venezolana – ENCOVI), making it easier for criminal organizations to exploit them.

Most notably, Venezuelans often become victims of modern slavery and its various incarnations, such as sexual and labor exploitation. In 2018, Venezuelan non-governmental organization Paz Activa reported that there had been 198,800 victims of human trafficking as of 2017 in its publication Human Trafficking, Forced Labor and Slavery (Trata de Personas, Trabajo Forzoso y Esclavitud). Paz Activa has further warned that the figure could reach 600,000 in 2019.

The United States singled out Venezuela as a country that is not making any effort to combat human trafficking and to protect victims. Meanwhile, Colombian authorities say that human trafficking has increased along with Venezuelan migration.

This year, dozens of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced labor networks that specifically target Venezuelan migrants have been dismantled from Colombia, Peru, Panama, and Mexico, to the Dominican Republic and numerous countries in Europe.

In Colombia’s capital city of Bogota, 75 percent of reported trafficking victims are from Venezuela. And in smaller cities like Cartagena, Barranquilla and Armenia — the capital of Quindío department in the heart of the country’s famed coffee region — authorities have dismantled smaller networks of sexual slavery and forced labor.

They also estimate that in Cúcuta, capital of the department of Norte de Santander and a major migration gateway, there are more than 2,000 Venezuelan prostitutes, so many that prices have been driven down to as little as 10,000 Colombian pesos (approximately $3.50) for their services.

Criminal groups operating in Colombia are also taking advantage of the humanitarian crisis. Authorities in Norte de Santander told InSight Crime that all of the country’s armed groups are currently recruiting Venezuelans: The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN), the dissidents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), the Rastrojos and the Urabeños all use them for different functions.The non-governmental organization the Foundation Networks (Fundación Redes) said in its latest report that Venezuelans make up some 60 percent of these groups.

Moreover, InSight Crime learned that Venezuelans have been replacing Colombian raspachines — people who harvest coca leaves — because they charge less.

“Most of the people caught up in these criminal groups are young and desperate to earn money to help their families in Venezuela,” said David Smolansky, the former mayor of the Venezuelan town of El Hatillo who is currently living in exile. Smolansky coordinates a working group on Venezuelan migrants, which the Organization of American States (OAS) created this year.

Monthly salaries when working for these criminal groups range from $100 to $300, an income that would be almost impossible to earn in Venezuela at the moment. But Venezuelans face dangers when working with such groups. In June, a bombing operation conducted by the Colombian army against a dissident FARC camp in Arauca department killed four Venezuelans, including two women.

Informal and Criminal Economies

Cúcuta is the principal corridor along the expansive border Colombia and Venezuela share. Some 40,000 Venezuelans pass through the city each day. Waves of people lug suitcases and balance packages on their shoulders as they flow into a prolific informal economy. Here, everything from cellular phones to “canaimitas” (laptops the Venezuelan government distributes to its schools) to even hair can be bought or sold.

The market for hair is particularly vibrant. As soon as they set foot on Colombian soil, Venezuelans can sell their locks for up to 100,000 Colombian pesos, which is approximately $30. In Venezuela, this amount equates to five months’ worth of minimum-wage income. The hair is used to make natural extensions that are then sold online for up to $200.

This passageway is just the first step in what is fast becoming a major corridor of migration-based organized crime. InSight Crime sources stated that a prostitution structure operates at that very point in the border, luring young women and children from the moment they arrive at the Colombian side of the Simón Bolívar bridge. They are temporarily housed in tractor-trailers, then transported to different departments throughout Colombia. Some even make it to Panama.

While it could not be confirmed through fieldwork, various regions of Colombia are notorious for having a large presence of sex workers who come from Venezuela. Cases of the sexual exploitation of Venezuelan children have also been reported in tourism enclaves like Cartagena and Santa Marta.

Borders Closed, Criminal Floodgates Open

The situation that has grown up around the Venezuelan migration has begun to significantly impact the greater region. In 2018, Latin American governments held at least two summits specifically to find a solution to the problem. The crisis is also one more on a growing list of issues tied to the already complicated migration situation affecting Central America, Mexico, and the United States.

Despite the meetings and other efforts, leaders from across the continent seem to have no effective means of tackling this crisis. Instead, the immediate reaction from many of them has been to close their countries’ borders in an attempt to squelch the growing migratory flows.

US President Donald Trump is one of the strongest advocates for that option, having proposed numerous strategies to essentially shut down the border between the United States and Mexico. Others in the region seem keen to follow his example or use it as cover for their own callous policies.

Yet, when borders are closed, migrants do not stop in their tracks; they tend to shift to more dangerous routes. And these routes are usually controlled by organized crime, thanks, in part, to chains of corruption and collusion with local authorities and security forces.

For example, Central American migrants traveling through Mexico have found themselves in the hands of organized crime groups, which are charging more for their services as Trump ramps up efforts to beef up the border. Smuggling Venezuelans is not yet as lucrative since the Venezuelan passport still allows for legal, visa-free entry to most countries in the region.  

Despite hard-line responses, migration levels are not decreasing. And little has been done to tackle the reasons driving people away from their homes in Central America, Venezuela and elsewhere, such as high homicide rates, corruption, and inefficient governments.

Venezuela’s descent into crisis has largely spurred the mass migration. According to estimates from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), inflation could top one million percent by the end of 2018, and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) could plummet by 18 percent.

The UN reports the number of Venezuelan migrants could skyrocket to 5.3 million in 2019. This increase will only fuel the market for criminal groups seeking to benefit from them, while also putting further strain on governments already incapable or unwilling to end the corruption and collusion that allow the same groups to function.

All this makes it unlikely that the situation will improve in the foreseeable future, except, of course, for organized crime.

The post GameChangers 2018: Venezuelan Migration a New Gold Mine for Organized Crime appeared first on InSight Crime.

InSight Crime

Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites)


Spread the Knowledge
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  •  
    1.1K
    Shares
  • 1.1K
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •