Deep Dive: Exploring Organized Crime

Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

Shortlisted for 'Best Investigative Podcast' at the Publishers Podcast Awards. The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime brings you stories and investigations from the global criminal underworld. The topics covered by Deep Dive are far ranging, one episode could be looking at a hybrid paramilitary organized criminal cartel; the next could be the dismantling of an encrypted communications network; or the use of complex corporate structures to hide illicit activity; or the role organized crime has in the recycling industry. This podcast series demonstrates the wide ranging investigations and research carried out by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

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P2 - Killing the Power of the Pen: Violence against journalists in Mexico
May 25 2022
P2 - Killing the Power of the Pen: Violence against journalists in Mexico
Part 2 - "I fear for my life" In 2019, journalist Lourdes Maldonado rose from her seat to speak to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a press conference - it was during this moment she said "I fear for my life" due to a long running legal dispute. Three years later, and just days after that case had been ruled in her favour, she was gunned down outside her home. Officials blamed a local cartel group, but critics were not and still are not convinced by this version of events. There is little trust between officials and journalism, and when it comes to violence against journalists in Mexico, with impunity levels over 90% it is not a surprise. This is a story about impunity, a hostile political climate, censorship, and the families left behind with those directly affected. Speakers: (Marcela) (Turati Muñoz), Mexico, is a reporter for the magazine (Proceso), where she reports about human rights, social development, and the impact of drug violence and its victims. She is also the co-founder of (Quinto Elemento Lab). (Miguel) (Ángel León Carmona) - a Mexican Journalist in Veracruz. Griselda Triana, Author of (The Forgotten Ones: Relatives of murdered and disappeared journalists in Mexico) and wife of Javier Valdez. (Siria Gastélum Félix), (Resilience Director at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) (Leopoldo Maldonado) - Regional Director, Office for Mexico and Central America, (Article 19). (Jan-Albert Hootsen), Mexico Representative / Representante en México, (The Committee to Protect Journalists.)
P2 - Killing the Power of the Pen: Violence against journalists in Mexico
May 25 2022
P2 - Killing the Power of the Pen: Violence against journalists in Mexico
Part 2 - "I fear for my life" In 2019, journalist Lourdes Maldonado rose from her seat to speak to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a press conference - it was during this moment she said "I fear for my life" due to a long running legal dispute. Three years later, and just days after that case had been ruled in her favour, she was gunned down outside her home. Officials blamed a local cartel group, but critics were not and still are not convinced by this version of events. There is little trust between officials and journalism, and when it comes to violence against journalists in Mexico, with impunity levels over 90% it is not a surprise. This is a story about impunity, a hostile political climate, censorship, and the families left behind with those directly affected. Speakers: (Marcela) (Turati Muñoz), Mexico, is a reporter for the magazine (Proceso), where she reports about human rights, social development, and the impact of drug violence and its victims. She is also the co-founder of (Quinto Elemento Lab). (Miguel) (Ángel León Carmona) - a Mexican Journalist in Veracruz. Griselda Triana, Author of (The Forgotten Ones: Relatives of murdered and disappeared journalists in Mexico) and wife of Javier Valdez. (Siria Gastélum Félix), (Resilience Director at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) (Leopoldo Maldonado) - Regional Director, Office for Mexico and Central America, (Article 19). (Jan-Albert Hootsen), Mexico Representative / Representante en México, (The Committee to Protect Journalists.)
P1 - Killing the Power of the Pen: Violence against journalists in Mexico
May 9 2022
P1 - Killing the Power of the Pen: Violence against journalists in Mexico
Part 1 - "It’s a message of terror, to stop asking questions" Mexico is known as one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist on the planet, and 2022 is on record to be the deadliest yet. (José Luis Gamboa Arenas), a journalist from Veracruz became the first to be killed this year, the body of (Luis Enrique Ramírez Ramos), a Sinaloan journalist was found in Culiacán on May 5th taking to total to nine. So how has Mexico got to the point where so many journalists and media workers are being attacked and killed? This is a story of bravery in the face of surveillance, intimidation and violence, extreme corruption, organized crime, shockingly high levels of impunity, censorship and a hostile political climate. Update: May 11th 2022 - (Two more journalists) were murdered in Veracruz as they sat in a car - Yessenia Mollinedo and Sheila Garcia. The total now has risen to 11. Speakers: (Marcela) (Turati Muñoz), Mexico, is a reporter for the magazine (Proceso), where she reports about human rights, social development, and the impact of drug violence and its victims. She is also the co-founder of (Quinto Elemento Lab). (Miguel) (Ángel León Carmona) - a Mexican Journalist in Veracruz. Griselda Triana, Author of (The Forgotten Ones: Relatives of murdered and disappeared journalists in Mexico) and wife of Javier Valdez. (Siria Gastélum Félix), (Resilience Director at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) (Leopoldo Maldonado) - Regional Director, Office for Mexico and Central America, (Article 19). (Jan-Albert Hootsen), Mexico Representative / Representante en México, (The Committee to Protect Journalists.) Additional Reading (Murder of journalists in Mexico a threat to democracy) (GITOC) (The forgotten ones: Relatives of murdered and disappeared journalists in Mexico) (GITOC) (Marcela Turati on the chilling implications of Mexico’s probe into her reporting) (Committee to Protect Journalists) (Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear (Reporters Without Borders)) (Mexico Archives (Article19)) (The Pegasus Project (Forbidden Stories)) (Mexico: 'worst governor in history' sentenced to nine years for corruption) - Javier Duarte, former governor of Veracruz, pleaded guilty to charges of criminal association and money laundering (The Guardian).
"You beat me" - Part 3: Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel
Apr 11 2022
"You beat me" - Part 3: Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel
As the net begins to close on Otoniel, life on the run is hard. Deep in the jungles of Úraba, he never stays in a single place for more than two nights, he no longer communicates using phones and he stays away from urban centres for fear of capture. But he still runs the largest organized criminal group in Colombia. One by one, other senior members of Clan del Golfo are picked off. But Otoniel continues to evade law enforcement in a constant game of cat and mouse. But now, Operation Agamemnon is in full swing with Search Bloc, the Colombian army and international partners hunting Otoniel - and when he is finally captured it's reported that he said "You beat me". This is part 3 of Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel. Speakers: (Angela Olaya), the Co-founder and Senior Researcher at the Conflict Responses Foundation in Colombia. (Toby Muse), Foreign Correspondent, documentary filmmaker and author of the book Kilo: Life and Death inside the secret world of the cocaine cartels. (Jorge Mantilla), the Director of Conflict Dynamics and Organized Violence, Ideas for Peace Foundation and a member of the (GI network) Related Links: (Toby Muse - Kilo: Life and Death inside the secret world of the cocaine cartels) (Insight Crime - Dairo Antonio Usuga "Otoniel" Profile) (teleSUR - A Look into 'Clan del Golfo,' Colombia's Largest Paramilitary Group) (el Colombiano - Siete líneas guiarán al Ejército nacional) (Los Informantes - Las chicas del clan: alias ¿Otoniel? y su red de prostitución de menores) (el Heraldo - “Somos hombres de Dios”, el mensaje de alias Otoniel al Papa) (Reuters - Colombian police capture sister of Clan del Golfo leader Otoniel) (El Tiempo - Cayó alias Otoniel, el narcotraficante más buscado del país | El Tiempo) (Semana - Presidente Iván Duque entrega detalles de la captura de alias Otoniel) (The Guardian - Colombia’s most-wanted drug lord, Otoniel, captured in jungle hideout) (BBC - Colombia's most wanted drug lord Otoniel captured) (Insight Crime -The Urabeños After Otoniel - What Becomes of Colombia's Largest Criminal Threat?)
"Don't text or call me" - Part 2: Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel
Mar 28 2022
"Don't text or call me" - Part 2: Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel
At the end of part 1, Otoniel we left him in sole charge of Clan del Golfo, the biggest organized crime group in Colombia. In part 2 "Don't text or call me", we look through the eyes of a man who goes by the alias "Messi", who was involved in cocaine trafficking and money laundering for Clan del Golfo. We'll see how he used real-estate, cars, watches, front companies and government contracts to clean the drug money...as well through football, music and livestock! And finally we'll delve into the murky world of illegal gold mining and the way Clan del Golfo use violence, intimidation and even assassination to get extortion payments from the workers. Speakers: (Daniel Rico), Researcher at (Ideas for Peace Foundation) and Director of C-Analysis in Colombia and member of (GI Network) (Luis Fernando Trejos Rosero), Profesor investigador del Departamento de Ciencia Política y Relaciones Internacionales, (Universidad del Norte, Colombia) (Jorge Mantilla), the Director of Conflict Dynamics and Organized Violence, Ideas for Peace Foundation and a member of the (GI network) (Toby Muse), Foreign Correspondent, documentary filmmaker and author of the book Kilo: Life and Death inside the secret world of the cocaine cartels. (Marcena Hunter), Senior Analyst, (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) (Ana Paula Oliveira), Analyst, (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) & (Global Assassinations Monitor.) Related Links: (Paper) (Cocaine Pipeline to Europe) (Paper) (Transnational Tentacles) (Toronto Star - Death, extortion stalk workers at Canadian mine in Colombia) (Miami Herald - Dirty gold is the new cocaine in Colombia — and it’s just as bloody) (Global Financial Integrity - The Gold Standard: Addressing Illicit Financial Flows in the Colombian Gold Sector through Greater Transparency) (Toby Muse - Kilo: Life and Death inside the secret world of the cocaine cartels) (Insight Crime - Dairo Antonio Usuga "Otoniel" Profile) (El Tiempo - La historia secreta de ‘Messi’, el capo de los $ 4 billones) (Semana - Alias Messi: fotos y videos de las extravagantes propiedades del narcotraficante y su espectacular vehículo) (Colombia Reports - Urabeños shut down Gran Colombia Gold operations after...
"He's an animal" - Part 1: Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel
Feb 21 2022
"He's an animal" - Part 1: Clan del Golfo: The Fall of Otoniel
In late 2021, the leader of Clan del Golfo (The Urabeños) Dairo Antonio Úsuga, aka "Otoniel", was captured by the Colombian police. President Iván Duque said that the arrest was only matched by the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s. Over the course of two episodes we look at the birth of Clan del Golfo out of the ashes of the right-wing paramilitary movement in Colombia. We'll explore their involvement in illicit markets such as drug trafficking, illegal mining, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and how they use extreme violence and targeted assassinations to spread fear. So who is Otoniel? Well, a prominent drug trafficker, Daniel "El Loco" Barrera, after being captured by Colombian police, warned them that about Otoniel, repeatedly saying..."He's an animal". Speakers: (Angela Olaya), the Co-founder and Senior Researcher at the Conflict Responses Foundation in Colombia. (Toby Muse), Foreign Correspondent, documentary filmmaker and author of the book Kilo: Life and Death inside the secret world of the cocaine cartels. (Jorge Mantilla), the Director of Conflict Dynamics and Organized Violence, Ideas for Peace Foundation and a member of the (GI network) Related Links: (Toby Muse - Kilo: Life and Death inside the secret world of the cocaine cartels) (Insight Crime - Dairo Antonio Usuga "Otoniel" Profile) (Colombia Reports - Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) / Gulf Clan) (Insight Crime - AUC Profile) (Mapping Militants, CISAC, Stanford) (El Semana - Daniel "El Loco" Barrera arrested) (Paramilitaries’ Heirs: The New Face of Violence in Colombia - Human Rights Watch) (The Last Man Standing? The Rise of the Urabenos - Jeremy McDermott) (Reuters - Virgins recruited as sex slaves for Colombian drug lords - reports) Full Reading List to be provided soon.
Killing in Silence: The Global Assassination Monitor
Jan 10 2022
Killing in Silence: The Global Assassination Monitor
An assassination is like a stone being dropped into the middle of a still pond – the splash is the violent act itself – the ripples are the repercussions, that spread far and wide – fear, intimidation, silencing, corruption, erosion of trust, environmental damage, illicit firearms, impunity and retaliation – after all, violence begets violence – the damage to society is far-reaching, way beyond the shock of that initial killing. In November 2021, the (Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime) launched the (Global Assassination Monitor) - the first ever global database on contract killings. Speakers (Ana-Paula Oliveira, Analyst, Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime ) (Nina Kaysser, Senior Analyst, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime ) Presenter Jack Meegan-Vickers Additional material (The Global Assassination Monitor) (Paper) (Killing in Silence: New research uncovers sheer magnitude of assassinations linked to organized crime) (Assassination Witness Project) (Podcast) (Faces of Assassination) (Also available across podcast platforms) (Book pdf) (Faces of Assassination book) (Paper) (The rule of the gun: Hits and assassinations in South Africa, 2000-2017) (Paper) (Murder by Contract: Targeted killings in eastern and southern Africa) (Paper) (How to silence the guns? Southern Africa's illegal firearms markets) (Paper) (Making a killing: What assassinations reveal about the Montenegrin drug war) (Article) (Mozambique’s quiet assassination epidemic) (Podcast) (Too Many Enemies) (Narrative podcast exploring the assassination crisis in South Africa) More podcast episodes from the (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) are available on (Apple Podcasts), (Spotify), (Google Podcasts), (Amazon Music), (Stitcher), and more.
Plastics for Profit
Dec 7 2021
Plastics for Profit
In this episode we look at the criminal involvement in the plastic waste industry. The lucrative global market in plastic waste is expected to be reach over $50 billion US Dollars by 2022. From Mafia groups to poly-crime networks, the temptation for organised criminal groups and bad actors to get a slice of this market is too hard to resist - and so corners are cut, laws are ignored, and irreversible damage is done. Alongside this, some waste management companies are used as Fronts to conceal other illicit activities like human trafficking, drug trafficking, prostitution, and various financial crimes like money laundering, tax evasion, mis-invoicing. Paper: (Plastic for Profit: Tracing illicit plastic waste flows, supply chains and actors) Speakers (Virginia Comolli), Research Manager, (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) (Yuyun Ismawati), Special Advisor at the (Nexus3 Foundation ) (Willie Wilson), Vice Chair and Private Sector Engagement Lead, (INTERPOL Pollution Crime Working Group) (Sedat Gündoğdu), Marine Biologist at (Cukurova University) in Turkey Reading (Plastic for Profit: Tracing illicit plastic waste flows, supply chains and actors), Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC) (Money Laundering from Environmental Crime), Financial Action Task Force (FATF) (INTERPOL report alerts to sharp rise in plastic waste crime), INTERPOL (Plastic Waste Management and Burden in Indonesia), (Nexus3 Foundation) (Global Shell Game: Fate of re-exports of seized illegal imports of waste from the USA to Indonesia), Nexus3 Foundation (Why is UK recycling being dumped by Turkish roadsides?), BBC News (Biffa fined £1.5 million for 'reckless' export breach), gov.uk (UK waste firm fined £1.5m for exporting household waste), The Guardian (Three victims of trafficking and modern slavery to sue Biffa: The claimants were moved from Poland to the UK and placed in work with waste firm), The Guardian
Crossing the Line: India and Myanmar
Sep 27 2021
Crossing the Line: India and Myanmar
In this episode we tell the story of a region, the "Seven Sisters", otherwise known as the Indian Northeast and one town in particular, Moreh, and the relationship with neighbouring Myanmar. Moreh sits just on the Indian side of the border and has become a hub for multiple illicit flows that pass through - timber, gold, firearms, wildlife, counterfeits, people, and illicit drugs. The Indian Northeast is undeveloped and has suffered multiple insurgencies over the decades. Often forgotten by governments who have eyes squarely focused on the giant neighbour to the North, China, and the geostrategic games taking place between the world's two most populous nations. Underpinning it all is the uncertainty of the brutal military coup in Myanmar in February this year. Speakers (Prem Mahadevan), Senior Fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (Thin Lei Win), Burmese journalist, living and working in Europe (Dr Ajai Sahni), Executive Director of the (Institute for Conflict Management) (Nicholas Farrelly), Professor and Head of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania in Australia This podcast is based on the paper: (Crossing the Line: Geopolitics and Criminality on the India-Myanmar border). Research What On Earth? podcast - (Episode 12 - Myanmar: ‘Anybody investing in the natural resource sector is, in essence, supporting the military’). Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). (Myanmar's tainted timber and the military coup), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). (Jade and Conflict), Global Witness (The hunt for Asia’s El Chapo), Reuters (How Myanmar coup fuelled rise in illegal drugs trade), The Financial Times (Indian wildlife amidst the COVID-19 crisis: An analysis of poaching and illegal wildlife trade), TRAFFIC
Cabo Delgado: Africa’s Forgotten Insurgency
Apr 28 2021
Cabo Delgado: Africa’s Forgotten Insurgency
On March 24th 2021, Islamist insurgents carried out an attack on the coastal town of Palma in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. The days of fighting, looting, massacres, private military contractors, and dramatic rescues led to thousands more people fleeing to escape the violence. The attack took place just a few kilometres from Total’s $20 billion-dollar natural gas project on the Afungi peninsula and in the same province as the huge ruby fields of Montepuez. Last year the Global Initiative asked how this ongoing insurgency is impacting the illicit flows that travel through the region – after the attack at Palma, we have decided to revisit this subject. This is a collaborative episode between (Africa and the Global Illicit Economy) and (Deep Dive: Exploring Organized Crime). Presenter: (Lindy Mtongana) Speakers: (Prof. Adriano Nuvunga) – Director of the (CDD Mozambique) (Zenaida Machado) – Senior Researcher, (Human Rights Watch) (Alastair Nelson) – Senior Fellow, (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime) (Johann Smith) – Independent Security Analyst in Mozambique Colonel Lionel Dyck – CEO of the of (Dyck Advisory Group (DAG)) Reading: (Observatory of Illicit Economies in Eastern and Southern Africa – Risk Bulletin Issue. 17) (A Triangle of Vulnerability: Changing patterns of illicit trafficking off the Swahili coast) Podcast: (Deep Dive: Exploring Organized Crime – Insurgency and illicit trade in Northern Mozambique) ('Criminals and Terrorists': Framing Mozambique's Insurgency - OCCRP) (Hundreds Missing After Mozambique Attack: Government Should Provide More Information About Situation in Palma) Amnesty International: (Mozambique: Civilians killed as war crimes committed by armed group, government forces, and private military contractors.) Producer: Jack Meegan-Vickers (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime)
The Fall of EncroChat
Jan 12 2021
The Fall of EncroChat
In June 2020, EncroChat users received a flurry of panicked messages from the company claiming its encrypted network had been hacked by "government entities". What unravelled was one of the biggest hacks by law enforcement in history, who claimed many of its users are alleged organized criminals in Europe. The hack was said to have revealed a litany of criminal behaviour - drug deals and shipments, money laundering and arms trafficking, corrupt police officers, a planning of a murder and even the discovery of a torture chamber, hidden within a shipping container. But was the hack even legal? And what are the implications for the encrypted communications that many of us use everyday? This podcast was based on the (reporting) of (Joseph Cox) at (Motherboard), VICE News. Guests: (Joseph Cox), Senior Staff Writer at Motherboard, VICE News. (Jake Moore), Cyber Security Specialist at (ESET). Edouard Klein, Intelligence-Driven Cybersecurity, (Sekoia.fr) (Tuesday Reitano), (Deputy Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.) Reading: (How Police Secretly Took Over a Global Phone Network for Organized Crime), Motherboard (Encrochat Investigation Finds Corrupt Cops Leaking Information to Criminals), Motherboard (Encrypted Phone Network Says It's Shutting Down After Police Hack, )Motherboard Europol, (Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) 2020 ) Al Jazeera, Opinion: (The EncroChat police hacking sets a dangerous precedent) ComputerWeekly.com - (Berlin court finds EncroChat intercept evidence cannot be used in criminal trials) ComputerWeekly.com - (Secrecy around EncroChat cryptophone hack breaches French constitution, court hears) Presenter: Jack Meegan-Vickers (Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime)