Since the recent end of the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in Brazil, it seems appropriate to reflect on the negative impact of organised crime on the natural environment in Latin America. For example, every stage in the production and processing of cocaine, one of the main sources of revenue for many Latin American criminal organisations, is damaging to the environment, mainly due to run-off of the chemicals used for processing the powder.
Cocaine trafficking is just one of the many criminal activities that cause serious damage to the environment and natural habitats. In Brazil, there is evidence of rare-animal trafficking which has enabled gangs to sell around 39 million wild animals a year, producing huge revenues. Last year in Mexico, at Cosoleacaque, an illegally constructed pipeline caused an oil spill of 1 500 litres. Mexico’s Zeta, Sinaloa and Familia Michoacana cartels have now tapped into the oil business, to the detriment of the environment and local people.
In Colombia, it is estimated that illegal gold mines produce an estimated 23 tonnes of the precious metal every year. As organised criminal gangs (FARC, Urabenos, Paisas) use mercury in the gold extraction process, Colombia has become the country with the highest level of mercury pollution per capita.
Since organised criminal activities are causing serious damage to the natural resources of Latin American countries, can the Commission state if it is monitoring this environmental damage? Does it intend to take measures to combat the indiscriminate use of resources by gangs?