The authorities of the various organizations linked to the fight against organized crime in the European Union (EU) and Latin America, are meeting in Panama to exchange experiences and improve joint efforts to combat scourges such as smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking under the premise that they are crimes that go beyond the borders of each country and region, and that, therefore, require an increasingly global response.
The event, sponsored by the EU Assistance Program Against Transnational Organized Crime (known as El PAcCTO), seeks to strengthen the fight against organized crime and regional and international cooperation, defining the priority areas of work in each country, in order to achieve concrete results and real impacts, while fostering dialogue, mutual understanding and the development of joint dynamics between 18 countries and Latin America and the 28 that make up the EU.
In addition, this annual meeting focuses, this time on how to combat the finances of organized crime by increasing the capacities of the Security Forces and prosecutors in the region to carry out criminal investigations and joint operations that culminate in the seizure. of resources and ill-gotten assets and the judicial prosecution of those implicated in these criminal organizations.
According Xavier Cousquer, one of the program directors EU PAcCTO, The idea is to determine what are the needs of Latin American countries to make the fight against transnational organized crime more effective and to share the experiences developed by Europe in this matter.
Our analysis of the situation is that at this time organized crime is definitely very powerful in Latin America, in all the countries of the region, with links to other criminal groups in Europe, which shows the need to work together against these organizations ”, he emphasized.
Highlighted Cousquer that the meeting taking place in Panama focuses on how to attack the finances of these transnational criminal organizations, considering that these illegal groups have unlimited resources, which not only implies money laundering in financial systems, but also the possibility of corrupting to anyone, so if our countries are not capable of attacking and seizing all the assets generated by organized crime, these criminal groups will continue to grow.
“For us it is much more effective to take away all the assets acquired with money from crime, to seize all the assets of these people or criminal groups, than to put them in jail,” he said.
When consulting you about the importance that this context may have a domain extinction law such as the one that is currently waiting to be debated in the National Assembly of Deputies of Panama, Cousquer stated that this type of legal initiative is essential to combat organized crime, but more important than the approval of this legislation, in his opinion, is its concrete implementation, since in the coming years it would have to be shown that the country is effectively seizing ill-gotten goods and making them available to society.
As an example the spokesperson for the program EU PACT He pointed out that Colombia, for example, annually seizes $ 1 billion in assets from organized crime, and although Panama is a much smaller country than its southern neighbor, it will allow the State to recover important funds to invest in social policies and crime prevention.
For its part, Tatiana Salem, coordinator and permanent secretary general of the Conference of Ministers of Justice of the Ibero-American Countries, although Latin America does not have the legislative and institutional integration that the EU has, if it has managed to generate very stable ties of collaboration and legal cooperation over time, Therefore, the great challenge for the region is how to strengthen those ties of cooperation in order to combat transnational organized crime, which crosses borders both in the way they carry out the crime and in which they must be investigated.
Today crime does not ask for passports, it does not pass customs, it does not pass migrations and it is carried out in more than one country and, therefore, many times the investigations must be carried out in parallel in different states, ”Salem emphasized.
In this regard, he highlighted the importance of establishing regional regulatory frameworks and specific cooperation networks to combat organized crime, and specifically their financing, so that cooperation can flow more effectively. For which, having domain extinction laws and a framework agreement for the distribution of assets is essential to be able to advance in the fight against organized crime in the coming years.