The emergence of new hybrid (state and nonstate) transnational criminal and terrorist franchises in Latin America poses a tier-one security threat for the United States. These organizations operate under broad state protection and undermine democratic governance, sovereignty, growth, trade, and stability. Similar hybrid franchise models are developing in other parts of the world, which makes understanding their new dynamics essential, as they are an important element in the broader global security context.
This threat goes well beyond the traditional nonstate transnational organized crime (TOC) activity, which includes drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking. It also encompasses trafficking in and the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by designated terrorist organizations and their sponsors.