HomeNewsBriefMexican, Colombian Criminal Organizations Present in Uruguay?
BRIEF

Mexican, Colombian Criminal Organizations Present in Uruguay?

MONEY LAUNDERING / 14 MAR 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers are likely using Uruguay for money laundering, according to a United States report, underscoring the country's growing appeal for international criminals.

Uruguay is "vulnerable" to money laundering partly because of a "highly dollarized economy", according to the State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, noting around 75 per cent of deposits and 50 per cent of credits are made in US dollars. Some laundered money is thought to be linked to drug trafficking organizations, among them Colombian and Mexican criminal gangs, according to Uruguayan officials. Responding to the report on March 13, Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro claimed legalizing all drugs would be the best way to deal with the money laundering problem.

The report, released on March 5, also cited the lack of restrictions on capital moving through the bank system as a factor contributing to the circulation of illicit funds. "Porous borders" with Brazil and Argentina and the existence of 13 Free Trade Zones within the country also facilitated the the movement of contraband and counterfeit goods, it said.

The government has proposed a bill legalizing marijuana, though it is facing opposition from a majority of the population. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Uruguay has historically had some of the lowest crime rates in Latin America, but in recent years it has been hit by the international drugs trade. Its geographical position between the two major Latin American drugs markets of Brazil and Argentina, combined with its dollarized economy and loose visa and residence requirements, create a welcoming environment for international criminals.

Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi warned of the internationalization of organized crime in the country in 2010, indicating the presence of drug trafficking groups from Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Similar concerns over the expansion of organized crime were expressed in 2012. Officials said that Brazilian drug traffickers could move south as their own government cracked down on favela gangs, and police investigated reports that drug trafficking organizations were increasingly using Uruguay for cocaine processing

Battles between local gangs for control of domestic markets has driven up violence, with the country’s homicide rate almost doubling from 2011 to 2012 and continuing to rise in 2013. 

Dollarized economies, porous borders, and free movement of capital are all factors that helped make Ecuador and Panama hot-spots for organized crime. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) uses both countries for refuge, strategic planning and the movement of drugs and arms.  International criminal groups take advantage of Ecuador's extremely lax visa regulations to traffic people to the United States, as well as maintaining drug routes through the country. With a similar set of conditions in place, Uruguay could become another regional hub for organized crime operations.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 22 OCT 2018

A judge’s dismissal of an arrest warrant against one of Argentina’s top union leaders on corruption charges might be forcing…

MONEY LAUNDERING / 21 APR 2015

Panama's legislation is designed to remove the country's notoriety as a regional money laundering hub. But there are powerful reasons…

GOLD / 1 MAY 2012

Mexican authorities say that, since 2008, criminal gangs have robbed so many trucks carrying gold shipments that some mining companies…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…