A recent report by InSight Crime, an organization that researches and investigates organized crime in the Americas, has brought to light the threat posed by criminal gangs to the environment. Salvadoran, Mexican, and Chinese gangs have been clear cutting vast tracts of land in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve. These gangs are destroying the forest for various illegal activities, ranging from money laundering through cattle ranches, to creating airstrips for planes transporting narcotics, to selling wood and rare species in the international market. This environmental destruction is often taking place in areas where the criminal gangs govern with little to no state intervention. The National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) fear that the environmental destruction will continue to spread as their agency workers face kidnapping and assault and are often forced to flee certain areas.
For more about this story, see: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/Latin-America-Monitor/2012/1013/Organized-crime-in-the-Americas-bad-for-the-environment-tooandhttp://e360.yale.edu/feature/in_the_land_of_the_maya_a_battle_for_a_vital_forest/2580/
For more about InSight Crime and its reports, see: http://www.insightcrime.org/and http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/how-organized-crime-damages-the-environment-in-latam