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Globalization and Transnational Organized Crime: The Russian Mafia in Latin America and the Caribbean

Bruce Michael Bagley

School of International Studies
University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida
October 31, 2001

The purpose of this paper is to examine the scope and impact of the post-Cold War wave of Russian transnational organized crime in one region of the global system: Latin America and the Caribbean. Although the evidence currently available in the public realm is primarily journalistic and often anecdotal, it is, despite these limitations, sufficient to support the conclusion that the linkages or “strategic alliances” between various Russian organized crime groups and major transnational criminal organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2001 were already substantial and expanding rapidly. Moreover, it raises the specter that, at least in some key countries in the region (e.g., Colombia, Mexico and Brazil), the alliances between home-grown and Russian criminal organizations may provide domestic criminal and/or guerrilla groups with access to the illicit international markets, money-laundering facilities and illegal arms sources that could convert them into major impediments to economic growth and serious threats to democratic consolidation and long-run stability at home.

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