Investigations

In-depth reporting on critically important organized crime topics, underworld dynamics and corruption.

Colombian rebel groups long ago set up shop in Venezuela, seeking sanctuary beyond the reach of the US-back Colombian military. The Chavista regime welcomed them as allies against an “imperialist”…

INVESTIGATIONS / 13 OCT 2021

The Amazon Basin is being ravaged at an accelerating rate by organized criminal groups and "legal" enterprises alike, as deforestation soars and biodiversity suffers. Illegal mining, logging, wildlife trafficking, land…

INVESTIGATIONS / 1 SEP 2021

Nicaragua has long been able to keep homicide rates down, burnishing the country’s anti-crime reputation. But as these case studies illustrate, the most sophisticated criminal groups often operate with a…

INVESTIGATIONS / 15 JUL 2021

Wildlife trafficking goes deeper than commonly understood. Deeper under the sea in Honduras where sea cucumbers are fished by the ton to feed demand in Asia. Deeper into Colombia's hinterlands…

INVESTIGATIONS / 14 MAY 2021

As in the darkest days of Colombia’s civil conflict, armed groups across the country continue to enlist and exploit teenagers. In this investigation about the recruitment of minors in Colombia by…

INVESTIGATIONS / 15 APR 2021

When Mexico’s drug cartels forced Colombian traffickers out of the US cocaine market, they seized control of the most coveted prize in the global drug trade. But the smartest traffickers…

INVESTIGATIONS / 9 FEB 2021

In this investigative series, InSight Crime tells the story of how coveted border territories have been transformed into fertile breeding grounds for corruption in Central America’s Northern Triangle and the…

INVESTIGATIONS / 29 JAN 2021

Based on 18 months of field work in Brazil and Paraguay, this investigation explores the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC), the hemisphere’s premier prison gang and…

INVESTIGATIONS / 18 DEC 2020

In San Salvador’s bustling Historic Center, nothing gets done without going through the gangs. The notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 street gangs have steadily tightened their grip on…

INVESTIGATIONS / 1 OCT 2020

Illegal logging has become one of Latin America’s most frequent yet under-reported criminal economies. In this investigation, InSight Crime presents its findings into the dynamics of timber trafficking in Colombia,…

INVESTIGATIONS / 18 SEP 2020

From cooks and coca harvesters to owners of their drug empires or trafficking and smuggling networks, women operate in a versatile manner, challenging traditional stereotypes about how they participate in…

INVESTIGATIONS / 13 APR 2020

Drug traffickers today realize that their best protection is not a private army but anonymity. This is the story of “Memo Fantasma” or “Will the Ghost,” who started life in…

INVESTIGATIONS / 29 MAR 2020

Over the last decade, Ecuador has quietly emerged as a key piece of the global drug trade, with up to a third of Colombia’s record cocaine production now exported through…

INVESTIGATIONS / 5 FEB 2020

Colombia’s peace process is at a critical stage. A growing number of FARC dissidents have taken up arms again, raising the question – is the country condemned to see history…

INVESTIGATIONS / 11 NOV 2019

Extortion in Central America comes in many forms and targets different victims. The actors behind it also vary, as does the way in which these illicit earnings exchange hands. In…

INVESTIGATIONS / 30 APR 2019

Many victims, especially those in the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, feel powerless to fight back against extortion. The fear generated by the powerful street gangs…

INVESTIGATIONS / 30 APR 2019

This investigative series looks at the role that Mexico and its cartels have played in making the lethal opioid fentanyl a growing threat in the United States. While China accounts…

INVESTIGATIONS / 19 FEB 2019

This three-part investigative series looks at how the last three winners of the presidency in Guatemala financed their campaigns using hidden funds from drug traffickers to big businessmen. This means…

INVESTIGATIONS / 23 AUG 2018

This investigation, the product of three years of field research, looks at the exponential growth of organized crime in Venezuela and the consequences of this for the region.

INVESTIGATIONS / 25 MAY 2018

In Central America’s Northern Triangle, impunity can be won with money, contacts and coercion. And the same rules apply whether you’re a high-level government official or a narco “kingpin.”…

INVESTIGATIONS / 2 APR 2018

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) is the hemisphere’s largest, most formidable and increasingly its most sophisticated street gang. This ongoing investigative series tackles its evolution from various perspectives. About this Project…

INVESTIGATIONS / 16 FEB 2018

In Central America’s Northern Triangle, organized crime has permeated national politics by corrupting local governments. This series presents the stories of three mayors in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, exploring…

INVESTIGATIONS / 2 NOV 2017

In Honduras, most homicides are committed using a firearm. This special investigation tracks how those weapons get into the hands of the killers that make this country one of the…

INVESTIGATIONS / 23 AUG 2017

After the capture of Zetas boss “Z40,” Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what…

INVESTIGATIONS / 5 AUG 2017

Emerging from the ashes of Colombia’s bloody paramilitary counter-insurgency in the mid-2000s came a new type of criminal network Colombia’s authorities christened “bandas criminales” (BACRIM) or criminal bands. The BACRIM…

INVESTIGATIONS / 13 JUL 2017

This project explores the challenges and lessons of disaggregating gang-related and drug trafficking-related murders.

INVESTIGATIONS / 20 APR 2017

This series of five case studies and one policy report explores how government mismanagement, neglect and corruption have made the jails in the region powerful incubators of organized crime.

INVESTIGATIONS / 16 FEB 2017

Guatemala’s elites are a mix of businessmen, politicians and security forces who, as these case studies show, regularly interact with organized crime in order to maintain and expand their power…

INVESTIGATIONS / 1 SEP 2016

Colombia’s civil war has raged for generations and, as this series shows, has helped forge deep and lasting bonds between the country’s elites and organized crime. About this Project Elites…

INVESTIGATIONS / 9 AUG 2016

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras’ two largest gangs, the MS13 and the…

INVESTIGATIONS / 18 MAY 2016

Honduras elites have worked with organized crime for decades. These case studies illustrate the deep connections they share in business, politics and even security matters. About this Project Elites and…

INVESTIGATIONS / 9 APR 2016

Elites and organized crime cross paths in more than one way. This introductory section explains how and why we decided to spend three years investigating this dynamic in four different…

INVESTIGATIONS / 23 MAR 2016

As Evo wins another five years in power, he faces the reality that his country is turning into a center for drug trafficking in South America. Can he stop transnational…

INVESTIGATIONS / 16 OCT 2014

Special interest groups have co-opted Guatemala’s justice system and blocked the efforts of those trying to clean things up. InSight Crime investigates the backroom players who are pulling the strings.

INVESTIGATIONS / 15 SEP 2014

The FARC is the hemisphere’s oldest and largest insurgency. InSight Crime explores the group’s roots, its growth and its efforts to strike a peace deal with the government.

INVESTIGATIONS / 26 MAY 2014

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call…

INVESTIGATIONS / 2 MAY 2014

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico’s Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from these same…

INVESTIGATIONS / 30 APR 2014

Since the end of El Salvador’s civil war, the country’s police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal…

INVESTIGATIONS / 6 MAR 2014

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

INVESTIGATIONS / 24 JUL 2013

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce — which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 — has changed the conventional thinking about…

INVESTIGATIONS / 11 JUN 2013

The possibility of ending 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the majority of Colombians want to see peace, for themselves and their children, the enemies of the…

INVESTIGATIONS / 21 MAY 2013

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality.

INVESTIGATIONS / 13 FEB 2013

The Zetas’ top leader is dead and the group is seemingly splitting into pieces, but they remain Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s biggest security challenge. In this context, InSight Crime…

INVESTIGATIONS / 16 DEC 2012

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and,…

INVESTIGATIONS / 24 NOV 2012

In a collaboration with four media organizations in Latin America, InSight Crime looks at the role of organized crime in driving displacement and slavery in the region — and what…

INVESTIGATIONS / 28 OCT 2012

In a collaboration with four media organizations in Latin America, InSight Crime looks at the role of organized crime in driving displacement and slavery in the region — and what…

INVESTIGATIONS / 28 OCT 2012

InSight Crime investigates how the death of a popular singer has highlighted the links of Nicaragua’s acclaimed police with organized crime in the country and how they fuel drug trafficking…

INVESTIGATIONS / 19 JUL 2012

Though it is not on the agenda of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Colombia, the question of drug legalization will be on everyone’s…

INVESTIGATIONS / 12 APR 2012

In this three-part series, investigator Michael Porth examines the steps that Costa Rica, long one of the most peaceful countries in the region, is taking to combat organized crime.

INVESTIGATIONS / 23 DEC 2011

The Zetas, Mexico’s most feared and violent criminal organization, have moved operations to Guatemala, penetrating local police forces and the military. They have made alliances with locals and are redefining…

INVESTIGATIONS / 8 SEP 2011

The GunRunners joint investigative project — which includes Frontline, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Investigative Reporting Project — tracks the entire distribution chain of illegal arms trafficking from…

INVESTIGATIONS / 2 FEB 2011
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Investigating organized crime is an expensive and often risky enterprise. Reaching primary sources and getting the real story involve extensive fieldwork. Please donate. Every dollar supports our mission.

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