> Vol. 5, No 4. 2015 > Transnational Organized Crime. An Insidious Threat to U.S. National Security Interests

Renee Novakoff
Transnational Organized Crime. An Insidious Threat to U.S. National Security Interests


14 2015

Over the past several years, U.S. officials have begun paying more attention to the insidious threat of transnational organized crime in the western hemisphere and its potential effect on U.S. national security. While senior officials who are on the front lines tasked to stop the negative trends are calling for increased vigilance and support to end these destructive developments, competing priorities on U.S. policymakers are resulting in unfocused efforts to develop a whole of government approach against these criminal elements. The U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities have had some successes against these bad actors, but as a whole, criminal elements continue to grow in power and resources, and concerning anecdotal information indicates, terrorist groups may be using some of the same criminal middlemen to help them move funds, goods, and people as the transnational organized crime (TOC) groups are using. The time has come for a serious government wide implementation of the administration’s TOC strategy, before we face a tragedy in the homeland that is supported or perpetrated by these transnational criminal elements. Because the threat crosses intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic, and military jurisdictions and is truly global, a new U.S. government paradigm is needed to insure a focused effort against the problem. This requires one focal point with the authority to put an operational plan together that crosses all stovepipes and can work domestic and international issues – the bad actors do not care about borders and they cross our organizational seams. It also makes sense to start this work closest to home – in Latin America. This article will lay out the nuances of the burgeoning relationship between criminal elements and terrorist groups in the western hemisphere in an attempt to inspire the U.S. national security establishment to take action