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Who Controls Medellin? Fragile Peace in Colombia’s ‘Model’ City

  July 18th 2014: The labyrinth of streets making up Medellín’s hillside slums are filled with what locals here call an “apparent calm.” Food vendors are out in force, music blares from bars and shops, and old men sit outside sipping tiny plastic cups of coffee, watching the world go by. But behind these everyday scenes … Continue reading

Eco-Trafficking in Latin America: The Workings of a Billion Dollar Business

7th July 2014: Eco-trafficking is no longer the preserve of a handful of poachers, loggers and specialized smugglers, but has become a billion-dollar trade run by transnational organized crime networks that spread corruption, violence and environmental destruction in their wake throughout Latin America. The natural resources of South and Central America make rich pickings for savvy … Continue reading

The Messi Scandal: From Charity Soccer Games to Money Laundering Accusations

3rd June 2014: Come the start of the World Cup in June, soccer fans in Argentina will be investing their hopes and dreams in the astonishing talents of their iconic striker Lionel Messi, who over the last decade has broken countless records and opposition defenses alike. But hanging over Messi’s head is an ongoing scandal that … Continue reading

Sadism, Death and Abuse: Women and War in Buenaventura

  The criminal butchers who have earned the port of Buenaventura a macabre reputation as the torture house of Colombia‘s drug war seem to reserve a special cruelty and sadism for the city’s women. Their work speaks volumes about the complex dynamic between conflict, crime, and violence against women in Colombia. The stories are chilling. Women … Continue reading

The Future of Latin America’s Drug Trade

  March 22nd 2014: With his snarling eyes and bushy mustache, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman looked the epitome of a Latin American drug lord as he was hauled in front of the cameras by the Mexican marines in late February. But despite his power, his wealth and the mythology that surrounds him, El Chapo was not the … Continue reading

Toxic Mix of Drug Lords, Corruption and Trade Fuel Disorder in Colombia Port

  5th March 2014: The Colombian port of Buenaventura is being ravaged by a paramilitary drug war and a push to capitalize on free trade, which together feed off the bloodshed and poverty that has become the daily lot for the city’s inhabitants. Located in the south of Colombia’s Pacific coast, Buenaventura is the beating heart of … Continue reading

War for Cocaine Corridors Consumes Colombia’s Busiest Port

  14th February 2014: Residents of Buenaventura have become prisoners of war in the battle for Colombia‘s primary cocaine port. They are confined within invisible borders, silenced by macabre atrocities and live at the mercy of alienated youths armed and empowered by drug trafficking warlords. Fear and desperation pervade the ramshackle communities that make up … Continue reading

Children, Sex and Gangs in Medellin

  16th Decemeber 2013: In the slums of Medellin, Colombia, adolescent girls have become the spoils of war and merchandise f or criminal gangs; they are raped, abused, trafficked and even have their virginities auctioned off to the highest bidder. Medellin’s hillside slums — known locally as comunas — are the fiefdoms of street gangs … Continue reading

Colombia’s Wild West: Gold, Prostitutes and Urabeños

  19th Novemeber 2013: Three years ago, Buritica was a sleepy farming village tucked away in the mountains of Antioquia in northwest Colombia. Now, it is a gold rush frontier town replete with deathtrap mines, ramshackle huts, prostitutes, drugs, and narco-paramilitaries — a metamorphosis that could become ever more common as Colombia’s illegal gold miners, who have … Continue reading

Colombia: The Virgin Auctions in Pablo Escobar’s Home Town

  8th October 2013: It is a phrase now commonly heard in the hillside slums of Medellin, Colombia: “Take care of your daughter, or she will be sold.” The warning – or threat, depending on who is talking – is literal. The street gangs that rule the slums known as comunas are recruiting 10 to 15-year-old … Continue reading