In Caracas, experts from 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries are analyzing plans against drug-related money laundering that will be submitted to the member countries of a special OAS commission for the fight against this crime, the Venezuelan Government announced. The experts from the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), attached to the Organization of American States (OAS), are holding their thirty-third meeting to define new plans and strategies against the laundering of drug money. During the meeting, Venezuela assumed the chairmanship of the group for the period 2011-2012. “We have to tweak the group’s mandate so that we can issue model regulations or documents that can be of use to the different member states” in their fight against money laundering, said the group’s new chair, Annalibe Ruiz, who is also head of the anti-money-laundering directorate of the local anti-narcotics police. Delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela are attending the meeting, in addition to OAS experts. By Dialogo September 29, 2011
“They are intelligence aircraft. They are in the VRAE and the Upper Huallaga,” he said at a news conference with foreign correspondents. “They help to effectively fight drug trafficking and terrorism.” By Dialogo January 20, 2012 On his arrival in office last year, Humala ordered a review of Peru’s counter-drug policies, raising questions about the future of U.S.-Peruvian drug cooperation. Luis Alberto Ortarola said the aircraft were used to overfly coca-growing regions in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley, known as VRAE, in southeastern Peru and the Upper Huallaga Valley in the central region. Two U.S. surveillance planes are supporting Peru’s campaign against drug trafficking and remnants of a Maoist guerrilla group, Peru’s Defense Minister disclosed on January 18. Otarola said the government of President Ollanta Humala, in its first five months in office, had succeeded in reducing the area where drug traffickers and their rebel backers operate. The U.S. State Department said last August, however, that it had been assured that close cooperation between the two governments would continue on counter-drug efforts.
This is the first edition of this event, the program of which includes an exhibition of new security solutions by an estimated 150 exhibitors from 14 countries. Ten thousand visitors are expected, including public-safety authorities from Brazil and Latin America, security managers from large corporations, and providers of services and critical infrastructure. On the agenda is a new vision of security, considering the political-economic situation and the contributions of public and corporate initiatives for the evolution of the sector. Simultaneously, the 2nd Security Seminar will take place, with participation by specialists and government and industry representatives who will discuss challenges and trends in the sector. During the event, plenary sessions of the national councils that bring together the authorities in the sector will be held. By Dialogo April 11, 2012 LAAD Security 2012 – Public and Corporate Security International Exhibition is taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from April 10 to 12, with the participation of public organizations, firms, and security specialists.
WASHINGTON — Jamaican security officials are cracking down on telephone and Internet lottery scams that prey on elderly victims, then drain their victims’ bank accounts to finance drug trafficking and other illegal activities that fuel violence throughout the Caribbean island. “The lottery scam is a type of advanced fraud, where typically the perpetrator contacts the victim to announce they’ve won a prize — usually in the millions of dollars,” said Peter Bunting, Jamaica’s minister of national security. “But in order to collect they have to pay a fee, and whatever money they pay will be stolen.” He added: “These people only need a few successes. The email generally is just an introduction. Then there’s persuasion that takes place in a telephone conversation. They invest weeks of time to gain the trust of that person. When you look at the selection of victims, generally they’re elderly — 75 to 90 years old. Oftentimes these people are vulnerable, lonely and some may have early stages of dementia.” Bunting was among several Jamaican officials who spoke during a Feb. 22 seminar at the Inter-American Dialogue, a U.S. think tank. The event attracted more than 70 people from half a dozen Caribbean embassies in Washington, as well as representatives of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Pentagon. Gangs turn to scams for profit Bunting said the Jamaican government is concerned with lottery scams for three reasons. “First are the financial losses and emotional trauma caused to the victims. This is one of the cruelest types of scams, because the victims are typically elderly,” he said. “Second is the damage this does to Jamaica’s reputation and its impact on legitimate businesses. Finally is the fact that most of the proceeds end up fueling violent criminal gangs. In the parish of St. James, as much as 40 or 50 percent of violent criminal activity is related in one way or another to the lottery scam.” Jamaica is already cursed with one of the world’s highest homicide rates. In 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Crime and Drugs, that rate was 52 per 100,000 — making Jamaica the fourth most-violent country after Honduras, El Salvador and Côte d’Ivoire. Bunting said 247 gangs operate in Jamaica, and that last year, these gangs committed two-thirds of all murders. In addition, he said, 21 gangs make money from lottery scams, including all 17 gangs in St. James, where lottery scams are most prevalent. “Apart from the legacy of gangs and guns we inherited, we also have some dysfunctional elements in our own culture. And unlike drug trafficking, [with lottery scams] you don’t need a great amount of resources,” said Jamaica’s security chief. “There’s not really any single kingpin you can point to, and it’s evolving as our remittance companies get more vigilant.” Task force established to combat scams Last year, the Jamaican government unveiled its Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA), whose slogan is “Take the Profit Out of Crime.” Bunting said “it’s the first fully vetted special investigation unit in the English-speaking Caribbean. It’s multi-agency, its focus is financial, and it has investigative and intel capabilities.” “While we ideally want convictions for principal activity, we would take disruptions of their criminal network as second-best. If we can arrest them and get convictions on tax evasion, smuggling or having assets they can’t declare as legitimate, and we can go after those assets, then we’ll do that.” In 2012, this new unit conducted 39 operations resulting in the arrest of 367 suspects, 99 of whom were later charged with crimes. In addition, police seized 121 vehicles, 731 communications devices, $33 million in cash and lead lists containing 1.2 million names. So far this year, Bunting said, MOCA “has apprehended a number of suspects” as well as electronics, jewelry and at least $200,000 in cash. Strategic partners in this effort include Jamaica Post, the U.S. Postal Service, Western Union and MoneyGram. “We’re going after the perpetrators, who are putting their neighbors, friends and family with legitimate jobs at risk. We’re connecting the dots and starting to see significant reduction of scamming activity in St. James,” he said, pointing to a 40 percent drop in murders and shootings in that parish over the last six months. Learning from Nigeria St. James, home to the Montego Bay tourist resort and free zone, is particularly affected by lottery scams because of its large concentration of call centers, said Mark Golding, Jamaica’s minister of justice. “The parish has a large pool of young people who were trained in the techniques of telemarketing and offshore betting operations. They know how to handle objections and gain people’s confidence,” he said. “Just about the time we were seeing serious reductions in narcotics trafficking and gangs were hard-pressed for income, this new illicit activity arose. Gang members themselves may not be the dialers, but in many ways they extort the dialers, sell them protection and carry out reprisal attacks if the scammers double-cross each other.” To combat the growing scourge, Golding said Jamaica is learning some lessons from Nigeria, which has long been associated with mail fraud and, more recently, phony Internet scams. “Nigeria has developed some advanced legislation in the last four or five years, but because of our fairly antiquated laws, it was difficult to charge perpetrators with a specific scamming activity,” Golding explained. “In 2010, we passed the Evidence Special Measures Act, which enables victims who can’t attend court to give evidence via an audiovisual link from a remote location which may be outside of Jamaica. That’s important in terms of getting witnesses who have been scammed to give evidence.” The bill also provides for restitution to victims in a criminal trial, so there’s no need for a separate civil suit for compensation. “We recognize that it’s difficult to get to a criminal kingpin, say a narcotics kingpin, by stopping a go-fast boat,” said Golding. “Typically, those people are four or five levels away from the real kingpin. However, they tend not to stay as far away from their money. While most criminals are prepared in their career to face a few years in jail, they really hate the idea of going out of jail broke.” Excellent article, it prepares us for the next level on the new types of fraud and money laundering. By Dialogo March 11, 2013
The United States announced that slight increases in military cooperation for México and Central América would take place in the fiscal year 2014. Honduras will be the Central American country to obtain the most assistance, with $4.5 million, compared to the $3.5 million granted in 2013. México will obtain a total of $7 million, very similar to the amount they received this year. Furthermore, Nicaragua will be granted direct U.S. military help for the first time, in the amount of $385,000, the lowest amount in the region. In the last meeting held by regional military leaders, the VIII Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC) in Panamá, the Commander in Chief of Nicaragua’s Armed Forces, Army General Julio César Avilés, met with U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command. “The military chiefs held bilateral meetings to strengthen cooperation in different areas,” the Nicaraguan Army said in a statement. During the conference, “topics and strategies to combat transnational organized crime” were discussed, according to the same press release. Panamá will receive $1.8 million in 2014, compared to $2.3 million in the current year, while Costa Rica will have an increase to $1.4 million, after receiving $815,000 in 2013. El Salvador is receiving further help with $1.8 million, compared to $1.25 granted last year. Guatemala is also experiencing an increase in its 2014 allocation, with a total of $1.74 million. This year Guatemala received half a million. Outside of México and Central America, Colombia is experiencing the sharpest drop in the Latin American region, with $28.5 million in 2014, compared to $40 million in 2013. Overall, the U.S. military cooperation assistance in the Western Hemisphere dropped from $70.8 million to $60.2 million. By Dialogo May 14, 2013
The United States government has donated computer equipment to the Dominican Republic National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD) to help it fight transnational organized criminal groups that use the island as a transit point for drug trafficking. The DNCD will use the equipment to fight organized crime groups and seize illegal drugs. “We should welcome any initiative that contributes to make the work of fighting drug trafficking more efficient, and this donation can strengthen that effectiveness,” said Wilfredo Lozano, director of the Center for Research and Social Studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana in the Dominican Republic. Other U.S. donations to the DR to help combat drug trafficking By Dialogo June 22, 2015 “The interdictions are the result of greater efficiency. The security forces of both countries are fighting the increase of drug trafficking in the region,” said Lozano. “This new step will allow the interconnection of all offices across the country,” the General said. DNCD cooperates with the U.S. to confiscate drugs Dominican Republic law enforcement authorities have confiscated 7,000 kilos of cocaine since January 1, this year often in cooperation with U.S. and other partner nations. For instance, in early June, the DNCD, captured seven suspected members of an international drug trafficking organization. Authorities had tracked the network’s shipments for weeks, and arrested the suspects as they were transporting small amounts of cocaine in a Santo Domingo restaurant parking lot. The alleged drug trafficking group included Dominicans, Belgians, Colombians and Serbs; it used the Dominican Republic to send large drug shipments from South America into the United States and Canada. For example, in September 2014, the U.S. donated to the Dominican Republic a 37-foot Boston Whaler Interceptor Patrol Boat during a ceremony held at the Dominican Navy base 27 de Febrero. The vessel is the tenth of a planned 12 to be donated by the U.S., and will be used by the Dominican Navy to support joint and interagency efforts to combat drug trafficking. The nine other boats are deployed in diverse locations across the nation, including Cabo Rojo, Barahona, Las Calderas and Punta Cana. The event was attended by Navy Chief Edmundo Félix Pimentel, who thanked the United States for the donation. The computer equipment isn’t the first donation the United States government has made to the Dominican Republic in the fight against transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking. “The training of security personnel and the donation of equipment are part of the cooperation between the two nations,” Lozano said. In addition to fighting drug trafficking “right now it is important for the Dominican Republic to be monitoring the land and marine Dominican-Haitian border that is used by criminal organizations for human trafficking as well.” The donation, was made through the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic and the International Affairs Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) in the framework of cooperation agreements between the governments of both nations. U.S. authorities delivered it to DNCD president Major General Julio Cesar Souffront Velasquez in a ceremony at Directorate’s headquarters on May 28. The equipment is part of an aid package worth about $1.5 million overall; law enforcement authorities have already recorded the donated equipment in the DNCD Fixed Assets System and will distribute it to different departments.
By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo May 10, 2017 During LAAD 2017 Defence & Security International Exhibition on April 4th, an agreement was announced between the Brazilian firm, Embraer Defense and Security, and Rockwell Collins, its American counterpart. Operating in the aerospace sector, the companies foresee a mutual incorporation of products between their portfolios. “There will be products that could potentially be produced by Rockwell Collins, which we will integrate with our solutions, and Bradar and Savis products that might be produced using Rockwell Collins solutions,” stated Jackson Schneider, the president of Embraer and director of its subsidiaries, Bradar and Savis. The exchange between the two firms has been going on for nearly 50 years, “but now we’re taking the next step in this partnership,” Schneider said, citing the KC-390 aircraft, one of the Brazilian Air Force’s most recent acquisitions. Manufactured by Embraer, the plane uses an avionic system created by Rockwell Collins. The announcement took place in Rio de Janeiro in the presence of Colin Mahoney, Vice President of Rockwell Collins; Peter Michael McKinley, U.S. Ambassador in Brazil; and Flávio Augusto Basílio, Secretary of Defense Products for Brazil’s Ministry of Defense. “This agreement is a symbol of the importance of the relationship between the United States and Brazil in terms of defense. The two countries have been partners for some time now, and we are actively working to expand and strengthen that relationship,” said Ambassador McKinley. The day before signing the agreement, government representatives from both countries had convened at the II Defense Industry Dialogue, with the goal of furthering a series of conversations about cooperation in the production of defense material. “Brazil decided that the United States should be a strategic partner. We’ve been discussing the possibility of developing a binational project,” said Basílio, adding that the “agreement between Bradar and Savis and Rockwell Collins is a concrete example of this plan.” According to him, “the most important thing is that it isn’t asymmetrical collaboration. These are two large companies, and in this case, Brazil and the United States both win. This is going to open up the possibility of jointly developing products and exploring other markets”. A milestone in the relationship This has been a notable year in the relationship between the Brazilian and U.S. defense sectors. After 10 years of exchanging ideas, Brazil’s Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense signed the Master Information Exchange Agreement (MIEA), on March 22nd. The document calls for bilateral cooperation to develop defense-related technology projects. “Our level of dialogue with the United States is now moving to the next level. Without this agreement, we wouldn’t be able to collaborate on defense, science, and technology,” said Basílio. One benefit of the agreement is making possible the importation of U.S. products in support of Brazilian Armed Forces’ strategic projects. It also includes a discussion of mutual certification, which will enable products certified by Brazilian laboratories to be recognized by U.S. laboratories, in order to be integrated into the market without requiring two certification processes. “That type of agreement enables a more fluid relationship and generates benefits for both economies,” Basílio pointed out. History of dialogue The recently signed MIEA implements two documents previously negotiated by Brazil and the United States: the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). Both were enacted in June 2015, after spending five years in the Brazilian National Congress awaiting analysis by the deputies and senators. DCA focuses on strength and cooperation between Brazil and the United States in defense, with particular attention paid to technology, systems and equipment, procurement, exchanging information and experiences, and joint exercises and training. GSOMIA is responsible for creating legal grounds that favor exchange initiatives in the fields of science, technology, communications, and logistics. Given the secrecy and protection of military information, this agreement’s goal is to promote commercial and industrial contracts. The next steps Talks between the two countries continue. “We are discussing another two agreements, one related to an exchange of engineers so that Brazilian professionals can go to the U.S. and those from the United States can come here, and another in the field of research, development, and technology,” Basílio said. “When that third agreement is finalized, we will be able to achieve our goal, which is developing a binational product.” The Brazilian Ministry of Defense has scheduled a meeting with the U.S. Department of Defense for October, in Washington, D.C.
By Taciana Moury/Diálogo August 30, 2017 Brazilian military communications are becoming even more secure. The Brazilian Armed Forces now have a Geostationary Defense and Communications Satellite (SGDC, per its Portuguese acronym). Set in orbit in May, the equipment allows for government and military communications to be made securely and will also expand broadband service offerings in Brazil’s most remote regions. Control of the satellite is the responsibility of the Space Operations Center (COPE, per its Portuguese acronym), a unit that is under the Brazilian Air Force’s (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) Aerospace Operations Command (COMAE, per its Portuguese acronym). COPE has facilities in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, where it monitors all military communications via satellite. The center’s operations are conducted jointly with the Army and Navy through a multidisciplinary team. After entering orbit, the satellite remained under manufacturer control while undergoing acceptance testing. According to FAB Colonel Marcelo Vellozo Magalhães, the commander of COPE, the operations center continuously monitored the entire data stream during the acceptance testing phase. “When COPE activated the secure communications cryptography and the manufacturer no longer had access to the equipment, the satellite began operating exclusively under Brazil’s control, thus ensuring the sovereignty of our communications through the Aerospace Operations Command,” Col. Magalhães noted. The inauguration of these FAB-coordinated activities took place in July by video conference between the authorities at COMAE’s headquarters in Brasilia and Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann, who was in the town of Vilhena in Rondônia (northern Brazil), nearly 2,000 kilometers away. In attendance were FAB General Nivaldo Luiz Rossato, the general commander of Aeronautics, and FAB General Gerson Nogueira Machado de Oliveira, the commander of COMAE at the time. On that occasion, Minister Jungmann said that it was a historic moment for the nation and stressed the satellite’s importance for Brazil’s defense and sovereignty. “We are operating a satellite that is the first to be duly encrypted and under our control. This is not just a military project for national defense and sovereignty. It obviously also represents a big step forward for our autonomy and our independence in terms of foreign media, so that we can move forward with our own communications,” he said. That video conference marked the linking of border patrol Operation Ostium with the SGDC. Col. Magalhães explained that they are also discussing some tests for linking the satellite with command-and-control networks. “All our military operations, such as Operations Ágata and Ostium, use various communications and data networks for their coordination and for their command and control. But operational testing is still being conducted with the SDGC. In this phase, the users’ equipment is being configured and tested for operability with the satellite,” he added. Information security “The security of our satellite monitoring and control operations is ensured by modulation and cryptography techniques,” Col. Magalhães explained, adding that the satellite also has anti-jamming features. “Military communications are also protected by modulation and cryptography techniques,” he said. Another advantage of the SGDC is that it can operate on an X-band frequency, which is a band of the electromagnetic spectrum used for military communications. According to Col. Magalhães, that frequency band is less susceptible to atmospheric or weather conditions, making it ideal for traditional military operations. “The military portion of the SGDC satellite uses this band, and it enjoys viability for its communications at all times in an area that extends from the Antarctic to the North Atlantic,” he added. For Col. Magalhães, the SGDC plays an essential role in strategic military communications that are essential for coordinating operations related to defending Brazilian airspace. “The fact that the satellite is controlled by service members and that it remains within the scope of a military organization guarantees the secrecy and security of our communications. In addition, this equipment will be available and operational at any time, whether in a crisis situation or a conflict,” he said. Geostationary satellite Weighing 5.8 tons and measuring 5 meters high, the SGDF is positioned at a distance of 36,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, covering the entire territory of Brazil and the Atlantic Ocean. The satellite has an 18-year operational capacity. The SGDC is the product of a partnership between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communications, and represented an investment of approximately $850 million. The equipment was acquired by Telecomunicações Brasileiras, a Brazilian telecommunications company, for use in strategic government communications, and also to expand broadband service offerings throughout the country, especially in the most remote areas. According to information from the Air Force Agency (AFA), the SGDC will expand the military’s capacity to conduct its mission. For example, during joint operations in regions along the nation’s land borders, during rescue operations on the high seas, and also for controlling Brazilian airspace. Gen. Rossato introduced the SGDC’s operational advantages during a public hearing in May at the Chamber of Deputies (Brazil’s lower house of Congress) in Brasilia. According to information from AFA, Gen. Rossato briefed the members of parliament on the successful launching of this first Brazilian satellite and announced that the requirements for a second SGDC are being drafted.
By Myriam Ortega/Diálogo November 28, 2017 Two illegal vessels transporting 1,415 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride and 756 gallons of fuel were intercepted at the end of September. The Colombian National Navy (ARC, per its Spanish acronym) arrested six crew members on flipper-type boats near Cabo Manglares, in the department of Nariño, along Colombia’s Pacific coast. The seizure took place after many hours of surveillance at dawn. “Drug traffickers are especially active at night because the lack of light gives them some ease they don’t have during the day,” ARC Vice Admiral Luis Hernán Espejo Segura, commander of the Pacific Naval Force, told Diálogo. “Visual detection and detection from the air are more difficult, unless we have night vision goggles.” ARC transferred the boats, shipment, and suspects to the municipality of Tumaco. The cocaine seized has an estimated value of more than $47 million on the international market, ARC reported. “The operation is the result of the Pacific Naval Force’s strategy,” ARC Commander Antonio Espitia Porras, chief of the Pacific Naval Force’s Operations Department, told Diálogo. “Out there, with good intelligence gathered through different agencies, the operations supervisor plans and develops a strategy to carry out the seizures.” One more During a similar operation a day later, a third boat was intercepted with 1,384 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride aboard. These two blows to narcotrafficking represent 2,799 seized kilograms of the drug. “It was two days in a row, and the operations were almost identical with similar results in terms of quantity,” Vice Adm. Espejo said. “In two consecutive blows in areas close to each other, we impacted these vessels.” This seizures were possible thanks to the 24-hour surveillance by service members who are vigilant of drug traffickers’ modus operandi. “It turns out that [criminal] organizations sometimes think that the coast is clear because one boat was caught, but we always [have more] units in the same area,” Cmdr. Espitia said. Colombian authorities carried out simultaneous operations in rivers because the area has many tributaries. “A single river, for example, like the Mira River, can flow into three or four different mouths. So [criminal] organizations use this diversity to plan drug trips,” Cmdr. Espitia said. “Narcotraffickers plan a possible exit route for drugs along two or three estuaries, sometimes at the same time. So, the strategy consists of having such good placement that regardless of the exit point, we can plan an operation.” The results In 2017, the Pacific Naval Force handed over 186 narcotraffickers to authorities for prosecution. The force also impounded about 79 vessels used for drug trafficking and confiscated more than 71,000 gallons of liquid and 62,000 kg of solid materials. It seized 88,568 kg of cocaine hydrochloride, 3,548 kg of marijuana, and 25 kg of heroin, according to figures the Pacific Naval Force provided Diálogo. These figures emphasize the effectiveness of official surveillance, which forced criminals to modify their routes. “Colombian waters are no longer the preferred route. The preferred route is exiting through the south, by the Galapagos Islands, and seeking a northern route from there,” Vice Adm. Espejo said. “Trips can last up to 15 days, with refueling points out at sea. Artisan fishermen do the refueling. It’s a very complex, very long journey.” The support of partner nations from the hemisphere has been fundamental. Networks of close cooperation were built, especially with Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and the United States. “What we do in terms of cooperation with our allies is very important,” Vice Adm. Espejo said. “The ratio [for the results] is almost 50–50 for seizures, with our own resources and through international cooperation mechanisms.” Despite the results, the challenge is great. In addition to boats, drug traffickers use submersible or semisubmersible vessels, small planes on clandestine airstrips, and land vehicles, among other means. “There’s a wide range of options to take out cocaine hydrochloride,” Cmdr. Espitia said. “This is everyone’s fight. It’s not a sole country’s fight, it’s a fight against a transnational crime that violates borders, harms generations, and harms the youth.”
By Jennyfer Hernandez/Diálogo January 31, 2018 The Guatemalan Army bolsters its fight against narcotrafficking with a U.S. donation of 100 new vehicles.