Model law unifies Latin American governments in response against illicit trade

April 15, 2021
Alejo Campos, regional director of Crime Stoppers Caribbean, Bermuda, and Latin America

The impact of illicit trade in Latin America is vast. In some markets in the region, between 70 percent and 80 percent of some consumer goods are sold on the black market. This not only impacts legitimate businesses, but it also funds criminal organizations that are increasingly involved in the smuggling and sale of illicit goods.

The same routes that are used to supply the multi-billion-dollar black market for drugs, weapons, and people across the entire continent are now also being used to move goods like illicit cigarettes. These illicit products are easy to transport and can offer criminals a 70 percent profit margin at a much lower risk.

A key challenge facing Latin American governments seeking to address the issue has been finding a way of tackling criminal networks that do not respect borders nor laws. Often, border control and police forces are unable to adequately prosecute smugglers. This is in large part due to the complex nature of going through legal procedures across multiple jurisdictions.

This has been a key focus area for Parlatino—a multi-national organization comprising 23 governments across Latin America and the Caribbean. In October last year, Parlatino unanimously approved the Model Law to Combat Illicit Trade and Transnational Organized Crime. 

This legislation sets out a legal framework that each member state will implement to “regulate the mechanisms of prevention, combat, investigation, and prosecution of crimes of illicit trade, smuggling, and counterfeiting of products, establishing their administrative and criminal sanctions.”

Francisco Escutia, executive director of the Latin America Anti-Piracy and Intellectual Property Consulting (LAAPIP), spoke to Alejo Campos, regional director of Crime Stoppers Caribbean, Bermuda, and Latin America, at the anti-illicit trade NGO Crime Stoppers. To find out more about how illicit trade impacts Latin America and how the model law will help unite the region in its fight against illicit trade, watch the interview below. 

  • Click here to watch the first part of this series "Collaborating Against Illicit Trade in Latin America," featuring an interview with PMI's Alain Vermaut.
  • Click here to watch the second part of this series, featuring an interview with anti-illicit trade expert David Luna.
  • Click here to watch the fourth part of this series, featuring a conversation between Alejo Campos and Werner Ovalle, Guatemala's Head of Customs.

Written by STOP: ILLEGAL

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