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One of the greatest threats to security in the Western Hemisphere is Transnational Criminal Organizations, or TCOs. With no regard for human life, TCOs move anything and everything through their dark networks—including weapons, counterfeit goods, and smuggled and trafficked persons. They play a large role in the North American drug epidemic—a crisis that claimed more than 60,000 lives in 2016, the highest level in history.
Together, the United States, Mexico, and the Northern Triangle countries are fighting back. During the first session of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America Security Day, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly held a discussion with President Morales of Guatemala; President Hernandez of Honduras; Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador; Secretary Osorio Chong of Mexico; Minister Bethancourt Yau of Panama; Minister Villegas of Colombia; and Minister Mata Vega of Costa Rica.
They discussed ways their countries can support regional efforts on counter-narcotics, dismantling TCOs, and ending human trafficking and smuggling. They emphasized that individual countries cannot fight these battles alone. Whether it’s combatting TCOs, terrorism, or trafficking, the leadership agreed on the need to work together in forming multi-government partnerships to share information, conduct seizures, and share resources. They also agreed that each nation must commit their own resources as part of a larger, comprehensive strategy to target these threats to the region.
This dialogue is an important step in working together to make the Western Hemisphere more secure.