Today we read, listen and talk, more and more, about the problem associated with insecurity due to organized crime and unfortunately the issue of the environment is not excluded from it but it is absent from the recounting of the events.
Criminal networks threaten the environment in different ways, the most visible and recognized being threats against environmental defenders; Mexico is one of the countries with the highest rates of disappearance and murder of defenders. However, the issue goes beyond this fact. Below I present a list of the most visible activities, which, without being exhaustive in terms of modalities, does give a clear idea of where environmental matters find their main vulnerabilities.
a) wildlife: based on known economic data, the illegal trade in wildlife species – both flora and fauna – occupies 4th place, after drug trafficking, white slavery, and arms trafficking. In other words, the commercialization of wildlife species is very attractive to crime, and not only in the buying and selling activity, but from their origin, the clandestine hunting of them and until their final commercialization. Even when there are species under special protection (NOM059), the status makes them more attractive for the black market.
b) deforestation: we find that in most cases behind the illegal logging of forests and jungles there are criminal groups. Although it is a way of opening new areas for cultivation, in many others they do it to benefit from the trade through the sale of wood and especially precious woods that are better valued. Likewise, illegal logging causes an increase in the loss of biodiversity and the release of stored carbon dioxide (CO2); This worsens three global environmental problems: the loss of biological diversity, climate change and the water crisis.
c) contamination by toxic waste; Crime does not care about properly disposing of the waste used for the manufacture of synthetic narcotics or modified products. The disposal of these delicate or risky compounds are deposited in soils, bodies of water or ravines, thus causing severe contamination in the environment, specifically in soil, water and air, which translates into problems associated with public health. population
As we see, organized crime intervenes directly in the environmental environment, affecting natural resources; but it also develops other activities that are equally or more harmful to ecosystems, such as illegal mining and fishing; Through mining projects and fishermen’s cooperatives, specifically, they intervene in the exploitation of natural resources, property of the State, such as metallic and non-metallic minerals, but also in illegal fishing, affecting the seas and coasts that are within the limits of the exclusive economic zone.
However, the penetration of organized crime does not end there; they also promote other activities such as land speculation and development of real estate outside the law, which generate negative externalities to natural resources and the environment, by promoting non-developed planned and without specific authorizations.
Lastly, and no less harmful, is the integration of chains of corruption that, among other actions, contribute to the weakening of environmental governance; By corrupting the institutions in charge of caring for the environment and natural resources, they generate institutional weakening and lax application of environmental laws.
The environment is definitely affected by organized crime in all its aspects. This also allows us to understand why the global fight against organized crime is a priority, since it directly attacks the human right to a healthy environment, enshrined in the Magna Carta of the Republic.
International cooperation and citizen awareness thus take a different perspective, we are in urgent need to stop organized crime for our present and future generations. Without a healthy environment and the presence of abundant natural resources, the quality of life of the population is diminished and with this organized crime grows.
We must, from the different trenches, take care of the environment, strengthen the institutional system and effectively apply the law, and thus stop being partners in the direct links of organized crime and environmental deterioration.