Money Laundering Could Stifle Latin America’s Response to COVID-19

Members of the National Guard and state police stand guard at Las Americas General Hospital in Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City, May 20, 2020 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).
Members of the National Guard and state police stand guard at Las Americas General Hospital in Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City, May 20, 2020 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).
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Some of Latin America’s most serious challenges—violent crime, drug trafficking, economic inequality and public corruption—all have one thing in common: money laundering. In Mexico alone, the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit reported that drug cartels and other illicit actors laundered an estimated $50 billion in 2019— crucial revenue for cartels that has also contributed to Mexico’s record-high homicide rate in recent years. Money laundering has helped Brazilian gangs like the Primeiro Comando da Capital, or First Capital Command, expand their criminal networks into neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia. In Venezuela, it has enabled a dramatic theft of public resources by officials tied […]

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