The three countries of Central America’s “Northern Triangle” have agreed to cooperate on fighting the regional threat posed by gangs, but it remains to be seen whether this cooperation will extend to combating other types of organized crime.
The attorneys general of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador met in Guatemala City on August 11 to discuss multilateral cooperation on anti-gang efforts, a theme raised repeatedly in recent weeks by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.
After meeting for more than ten hours, according to press reports, the attorneys general issued a joint declaration affirming their commitment to working together to confront the threat posed by the region’s gangs and outlining some of the mechanisms they plan to use to accomplish that goal.
According to the joint declaration, one of those mechanisms will be “promoting strategic regional investigation and prosecution, as well as simultaneous joint transnational operations with the goal of dismantling criminal structures.”
The document also states that the governments plan to develop an information-sharing platform administered by Guatemala's Attorney General’s Office. The system would allow governments to withhold certain sensitive information from partners, and would also restrict governments from providing shared information to countries not part of the agreement.
The joint declaration also calls for greater coordination between the Northern Triangle countries and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Transnational Anti-Gang initiative, known in Spanish as the Centro Antipandillas Transnacional (CAT).
According to a press release from the Honduran Attorney General’s Office, FBI representatives expressed support for the new multilateral initiative and agreed that the United States should continue its involvement in regional anti-gang efforts.
InSight Crime Analysis
The recent agreement serves as a sign that the Northern Triangle countries are taking steps to jointly confront the region’s powerful gangs amidst indications that these groups are continuing to develop transnational ties that could increase the threat they pose to national and citizen security.
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However, the current agreement only calls for developing multilateral cooperation on fighting gangs. It does not mention other types of organized crime, like drug trafficking, money laundering and elite corruption, which also pose serious challenges for the region.
It is possible that improved collaboration on anti-gang efforts could spill over into greater cooperation on other types of crimes. Such a development would likely prove beneficial to authorities seeking to investigate and prosecute complex organized crime cases that stretch across the region’s often-porous borders. For now, however, the governments have chosen to focus solely on the politically expedient target represented by gangs.