Understanding Illicit Gold Trade Routes and their U.S. linkages
The purpose of this project is to reach a better understanding of the illegal gold trade and cross-border illicit pathways from Colombia and Peru and identifying linkages to the U.S. market. Organized criminal networks, cartels, and terrorist bands have been enabled by complicit corrupt officials to take over this illicit gold trafficking, which is linked to a wide range of other criminal activities and leads to large scale environmental devastation, displacement, human trafficking, and suffering at many levels.
Additionally, the project will examine crime convergence with other illicit trade areas important to DHS. Gold is a difficult commodity to track, because of the complexity of the processing and marketing, which often involves multiple transshipments and offers opportunities to mix legal and illegal gold throughout the supply chain, smuggling, or through concealment. However, the documentation required along the supply chain offers a paper trail to be followed, which can provide clues to investigate and disrupt it.
The illegal gold production, trafficking, and smuggling in Colombia and Peru is only a part of a much large network of illegality that encompasses neighboring countries (Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil), and other transit hubs in Latin America, as well as many other converging licit and illicit commodities – other precious metals, drugs, weapons, wildlife, illegal timber, counterfeits PPE, trafficked humans, etc. If this project succeeds in its goals we believe it could be usefully extended to many of these other locations and associated criminal activities, especially since many illicit markets are interconnected.