UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov presented a new UNODC study entitled /Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean: A Threat Assessment/ to country representatives from the region. The event, held in New York, was attended by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr. Staffan De Mistura.
The study examines the impact of the major trafficking flows of cocaine; women and children coerced into the sex trade; migrants smuggled for labour; and firearms.
"For the people of Central America and the Caribbean, violence fuelled by transnational organized crime and illicit drugs is one of the most urgent threats they face. We must recognize that criminals and their networks can hijack social and economic development. Democracy, criminal justice and strong anti-corruption strategies can help prevent this from happening," said Mr. Fedotov.
Central America has some of the highest homicide rates in the world. In El Salvador the homicide rate is 69 killings per 100,000, in Guatemala it is 39 per 100,000 citizens, and in Honduras it is 92 per 100,000. It is against this troubling background that UNODC commissioned a threat assessment for Central America and the Caribbean.
Based on the report, around 80 per cent of cocaine is seized in Central America, while 20 per cent is seized in the Caribbean. This is a reversal of the 1980's. More than 90 per cent of cocaine entering Mexico transits through Guatemala.
The revenue generated by migrants from Central America for smugglers is around USD$85 million. In 2010, 87 per cent of migrants were apprehended at the US border were Mexican.
The report further reveals that in Central America, 77 per cent of all murders are committed with a firearm. There are an estimated 2.8 million unregistered firearms within the region, while the value of the annual trade is thought to be around USD$14 million with police in the region presently seizing 16,000 guns per year.
In terms of violence in the region, Mr. Fedotov noted that the 2006 Mexican security strategy disrupted the cocaine supply to the United States' market, forcing dealers to cut purity and prices. These changes undermined United States demand for cocaine. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of annual cocaine users declined by 26 per cent. But this has not yet reduced the violence associated with the flow. For these reasons, where violence is related to illicit drugs, it flows from the fight for a share in a reduced cocaine market.
Mr. Fedotov called on every country in Central America and the Caribbean to fully implement the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its related protocols, as well as the Conventions on drugs and anti-corruption.
"We also need to remember that the countries in Central America are caught between the consumption countries in the North and the production countries of the South. They are hurting and they are suffering. The international community needs to recognize this. We must listen and we must continue to offer our assistance," concluded Mr. Fedotov.
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