In recent years – and notwithstanding encouraging windows of progress – economic difficulties, political shifts, and the pandemic’s lingering effects have undercut anti-corruption efforts in Latin America. The fourth annual Capacity to Combat Corruption Index (“CCC Index”), published in June 2022, reflects these recent challenges. Most countries in Latin America experienced declines in their assessed anti-corruption capabilities, with only a few demonstrating stability or improvement.
Presumably in connection with the visit by Vice President Kamala Harris to Guatemala, earlier this week U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland “announced a series of steps that the Department of Justice is taking to address the threats posed by both corruption and by transnational human smuggling and trafficking networks” in Central America.
The main focus of the establishment of so-called “Joint Task Force Alpha” will be “to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.”
In addition, the DOJ release states: “Joint Task Force Alpha will also complement the Justice Department’s efforts to fight corruption. The Justice Department will increase its focus on investigations, prosecutions, and asset recoveries relating to corruption in Northern Triangle countries through its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement program, counternarcotics prosecutions, and Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.”