Chile
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    Profile

    Chile

    Capital

    Santiago

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 282,318.16 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    18,952,038

    Area

    756,700 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    4.60

    Criminality score

    114th of 193 countries

    22nd of 35 countries in Americas

    9th of 12 countries in South America

    Criminal market

    4.45

    Human trafficking

    4.00

    Human smuggling

    4.50

    Arms trafficking

    5.50

    Flora crimes

    4.00

    Fauna crimes

    4.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    2.00

    Heroin trade

    2.00

    Cocaine trade

    7.00

    Cannabis trade

    6.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    4.50

    Criminal actors

    4.75

    Mafia-style groups

    4.00

    Criminal networks

    5.50

    State-embedded actors

    4.50

    Foreign actors

    5.00

    6.42

    Resilience score

    30th of 193 countries

    4th of 35 countries in Americas

    2nd of 12 countries in South America

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.00

    International cooperation

    8.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.00

    Victim and witness support

    7.00

    Prevention

    6.50

    Non-state actors

    8.00

    6.42 4.75 4.45 6.42 4.75 4.45

    6.42

    Resilience score

    30th of 193 countries

    4th of 35 countries in Americas

    2nd of 12 countries in South America

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.00

    International cooperation

    8.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.00

    Victim and witness support

    7.00

    Prevention

    6.50

    Non-state actors

    8.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Chile is an origin, transit and destination country for human trafficking, primarily sexual and labour exploitation. Labour exploitation occurs in mining, agriculture, construction, street vending, hospitality, restaurants, the garment sector and domestic service, with most perpetrators being Chilean nationals. Notably, perpetrators are increasingly making use of the internet to lure victims and often use violence to intimidate bonded people. Dismantled networks show sophisticated levels of organization and differentiated roles, with international networks mainly involving people from Latin America targeting victims from Nepal, India, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and China.

    The human smuggling market involves state actor facilitation, criminal networks with international coordination, and individuals facilitating entry through irregular border crossings. The Dominican Republic, China and Venezuela are major source countries for human smuggling into Chile, which is also a transit point to Argentina. However, the existence of 'coyotes' from border countries may indicate that these networks systematically smuggle people from other countries, with many of them perceiving Chile as their final destination.

    Trade

    Chile is a major arms importer and a small arms exporter. Importantly, the routes and modalities used in illicit drug imports to Chile have been linked to arms trafficking. There are also indications of corruption, increases in crimes committed with firearms and groups selling arms from prisons. Law enforcement has been involved in the illicit selling of arms, sometimes reporting firearms as lost and then selling them to drug traffickers. The increase in demand for arms is directly related to an increase in the drug market and evident in an escalation of gun-related homicide rates in the country. Of the millions of licit and illicit arms in circulation, only a small number are registered with the General Office of National Mobilization. Even then, people with no criminal records are often paid by criminals to register arms and then report them lost or stolen. Illicit weapons have also been imported from Texas and Florida in the US, to Chile through shell companies, sometimes via the Port of Iquique.

    Environment

    Most forests in Chile are privately owned, and opportunities for flora-related offences in the country are fairly limited. Nevertheless, as most flora crimes only result in administrative sanctions, illegal logging occurs in some areas. Perhaps more significantly, Chile is a source and destination country for the illicit trade in exotic fauna such as birds, monkeys and reptiles. A clandestine market operates where large sums are paid for exotic species, used locally as mascots or for their fur. It is likely that perpetrators are small criminal organizations with connections to source countries, mainly Brazil and Bolivia. With regard to non-renewable resource crimes, while limited, it is primarily illegal mining that is undertaken in the country. Chile is also a transit country for gold from Peru headed for the US, the Middle East and Europe.

    Drugs

    Few cases of heroin trade have been detected in Chile, mostly involving independent actors attempting to import heroin or move the drug internally. Some heroin is imported from Colombia, and there is evidence that the same mechanisms are used to import other drugs, namely cocaine. Chile has one of the highest prevalence rates of cocaine consumption in South America, and in addition to being a destination and transit country, it is also a major supplier of the controlled substances used in production. Notably, the clandestine laboratories used to dilute cocaine base have been disrupted in the country. Chile is located next to two significant cocaine producing countries, Peru and Bolivia, and cocaine is moved through Chile to Australia, the Netherlands, Jordan, Italy, Belgium, Uruguay, France, Panama, Norway and Sweden. The market involves criminal organizations with ties to foreign actors, prisons and clients. Furthermore, increasing violence related to the drug market is evident in shootings and homicides between local rival organizations. Arguably, drugs and arms are imported into the country in the same way.

    Chile is a major cannabis consumer in Latin America, and cannabis produced in the country mainly feeds domestic demand. Paraguay is the main cannabis distributor in the Americas, but Colombian 'creepy' cannabis, known for its high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is also sold to upper and middle-class markets, Chile included. Cannabis is transported in part by small, primarily Colombian, criminal networks, and reportedly some cannabis shipments cross through Chile to Argentina. Meanwhile, Ecstasy and phenethylamine are the most imported synthetic substances. Synthetic drug imports originate in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, as well as in Argentina and Colombia. Chile is also a transit country for synthetic drugs from Colombia. The market targets young adults, but the consumer base has expanded to encompass diverse socio-economic groups. Most seizures are associated with individual possession, but some cases of criminal organization involvement have been identified as well. Notably, synthetic drugs have been seized in prisons. The most common modus operandi for entry has been the delivery of the synthetics into Chile via Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez Airport.

    Criminal Actors

    Organized crime in Chile is largely characterized by loose criminal networks, mostly anonymous family clans, operating in marginalized neighbourhoods and involved in drug trafficking, contraband, human smuggling and trafficking. These networks are mostly territorial, use low levels of violence and coordinate their operations with foreign actors. Although the government claims these groups might play a role in ongoing protests, there is no evidence of them attempting to influence the democratic process. Mafia-style groups operating in Chile also include drug trafficking family networks and family clans with defined leadership, small to moderate membership and low levels of territorial control. However, some operate transnationally, coordinating arms, drug and contraband trafficking with foreign actors. Additionally, drug trafficking groups use prisoners to carry out operations.

    There are many reports of corruption, particularly at Chile’s borders, which directly or indirectly facilitates criminal markets such as contraband, drug trafficking and human smuggling through protection or lack of control. State officials have also been accused of involvement in arms and drug trafficking locally. Significantly, military equipment has been reported lost and allegedly transferred to criminal groups. Foreign actors, Colombian organizations in particular, are engaged in the illegal cannabis market in Chile. Besides local criminal actors collaborating with foreign groups, nationals from countries with strong historical migration flows into Chile have also allegedly been involved in human trafficking.

    Leadership and governance

    While stable, Chile’s stability was challenged in 2019 following mass national protests and subsequent human rights violations, including injuries and murder, perpetrated by the national police. After months of conflict, Chileans voted by referendum for the Constitution to be rewritten. Punitive measures are being implemented to combat organized crime, including the deployment of the army to fight drug trafficking and contraband. In addition, President Sebastian Piñera announced a plan to incorporate open government measures, anti-bribery and corruption measures, open data, smart government, public probity, and transparency through legislative and administrative measures. Anti-corruption institutions outside the government also proposed a similar agenda. However, the Piñera administration has been less transparent in investigating and prosecuting security officials responsible for the human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators. Furthermore, authorities have uncovered one of the largest corruption operations in the Chilean police's history, in which officers ran a scam to increase their salaries. Nonetheless, corruption levels are perceived as fairly low in the country.

    Chile has signed most international treaties pertaining to organized crime, and it has extradition agreements with eighteen countries. Chile also engages well in international cooperation on anti-organized crime, evident in a number of successful police operations and seizures. In line with Chile's commitments abroad, a number of national laws target organized crime, including human trafficking and smuggling, drug trafficking, gun control and tax evasion. However, the legal framework needs fine-tuning in respect to non-renewable resources and flora crimes, as these are only penalized if there is some form of tax evasion, while illegal logging merely elicits an administrative penalty.

    Criminal justice and security

    Chile has one of the lowest regional rates of investment in the judicial system or judges per capita, but the judiciary is considered largely independent. The Chilean prosecutor’s office has a specialized unit in charge of money laundering, economic crimes, environmental crimes and organized crime. However, prisons suffer overcrowding with reports indicating inmates have insufficient access to water and hygiene services, mainly attributed to the inexistence of a criminal enforcement law, corruption and insufficient infrastructure and investment. Although high homicide levels exist inside prisons, the system is not controlled by criminal groups.

    Meanwhile, the main security bodies in Chile are the Carabineros de Chile, the national militarized police force managed by the interior ministry, and the Chilean investigative police (PDI), a civilian police force responsible for investigating crimes. Both have internal intelligence capacities, as do the military bodies, but Chile’s primary intelligence organization is the national intelligence agency (ANI). Furthermore, the police have their own anti-drug and organized crime unit. Chile's law of intelligence allows police officers to address threats ranging from terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and the use of reserved funds without judicial authorization, but resulting information is inadmissible in court. The lack of information sharing between police forces, ANI and other organizations has been criticized, however, intelligence sharing with other countries appears effective. Furthermore, a joint task force between Carabineros, PDI, customs, the armed forces and the civil air control agency has been created to combat organized crime at Chile’s northern border. Chile shares borders with two major cocaine producers, Peru and Bolivia, as well as Argentina, an important transit and destination country for drug trafficking. The borders present many vulnerabilities, including numerous unauthorized border crossing points. Chile also has ports of significant size, vulnerable to trafficking, and the expansion of the Panama Canal has allowed for direct transit to the ports of Valparaiso, San Antonio, San Vicente and Coronel, contributing to the increased risk of trafficking flows.

    Economic and financial environment

    Chilean law encompasses terrorism financing and money laundering, and, importantly, cases have been successfully prosecuted under the legislation. The prosecutor’s office is responsible for investigating and bringing money-laundering cases to justice, while the financial analysis unit prevents and detects suspicious activity. In recent years, more crimes have been incorporated as part of anti-money laundering efforts, including the embezzlement of public funds, fraud against the treasury, fraud, contraband and illicit arms trafficking.

    The economic regulatory environment is moderately conducive to doing business, and the private sector plays an important role in the economy. Previously, the state launched a programme to promote small, micro and medium enterprises and improve access to international markets. Nevertheless, a bureaucratic and regulatory system makes it difficult for businesses to operate, with tax payments made more costly due to an increase in corporate income tax. However, starting a business has been made easier through online registration of closed corporations, and establishing an electronic platform that allows plaintiffs to file initial complaints online. Additionally, the country's secured transactions system has been improved through a unified collateral registry and a new legal framework for nonpossessory security interests, requiring more corporate disclosure and managing the approval of transactions between interested parties.

    Civil society and social protection

    Chile's Victims Support Programme assists victims of human smuggling and trafficking with centres in every region, while underage victims and witnesses can testify via pre-recorded interviews. The prosecutor’s office has a victim and witness attention section to provide support and protection to those going through a penal process, and the National Crime Victims Policy focuses on victim participation in decision-making, restorative justice, improvement of investigative systems, access to case information and state compensation. Overall, the government has a fairly robust framework to provide support to victims of modern slavery. The National Service for the Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Consumption is in charge of implementing drug and alcohol prevention and rehabilitation programmes, and the Subsecretaría de Prevención del Delito runs other programmes in vulnerable territories. The government also created a civil society council to promote civil society participation in the elaboration of drug prevention and rehabilitation policies, plans and programmes, and a National Agreement for Public Safety was launched in 2019, focusing on police reform, including non-state actor participation. Additionally, the PDI has created an environment brigade to promote prevention action against fauna and flora crimes. Chile’s poverty reduction efforts are more effective than in other countries in the region, but the country is considered one of the most unequal in the developed world.

    Chile has made efforts to promote press freedom, and coverage of police violence during political protests has been substantial. Although NGOs and opposition leaders frequently contribute to electronic media, concentrated media ownership and a lack of resources are continual challenges. The confidentiality of journalists’ sources is sometimes violated, and certain issues, such as political corruption and protests by the indigenous Mapuche communities, are taboo for journalists.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.