In our March 23 Facebook Live session, Senior Editor Mike LaSusa moderated a discussion with Co-director Jeremy McDermott and Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos about two of the biggest organized crime stories in Latin America this week: the evolving criminal dynamics in Colombia as the peace process with the FARC unfolds, and the explosive allegations leveled by a confessed drug trafficker against numerous Honduran elites.
We published a story on March 23 about the departments of Colombia that are playing the biggest role in the boom in coca production in that country. McDermott explained the significance of this development in the context of the ongoing peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC). He also discussed the ways in which the coca boom is impacting criminal violence in various parts of Colombia as well as its neighbors, and how rising cocaine use in Latin America could change the criminal market dynamics of the drug.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of the FARC Peace Process
Another major story this week centers on testimony given in a US court by a confessed Honduran drug trafficker, who accused several individuals in the highest echelons of Honduran politics of having links to organized crime. Silva Ávalos explained the potential impact of the statements by Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the head of the Cachiros crime group who later became a DEA informant, at the drug trafficking trial of Fabio Lobo, the son of former Honduran President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo. Silva Ávalos discussed how the testimony -- which has implicated Pepe Lobo himself and his brother, as well as the brother of the sitting president and other current and former elites -- could lead to political problems, and potentially criminal charges, for some of those whose names have been mentioned.
The discussion also turned to US policy with regard to sanctioning and criminally charging Latin American elites with alleged ties to organized crime. Silva Ávalos linked the investigation and prosecution of Honduran elites like Fabio Lobo to the continuing support of the US government for anti-corruption efforts in Central America. And McDermott compared US efforts to target Central American elites suspected of corruption to sanctions and criminal charges leveled by US authorities against high-level officials within the Venezuelan government.
Watch the Facebook Live broadcast to hear the full conversation: