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Investigating Latin America’s Global Reach Of Illicit Activities

In today’s global landscape, tracing the path of illicit money has become a critical skill for reporters. In a GIJN webinar about unraveling the intricate webs of misconduct that start in Latin America but impact communities around the world, four senior investigative journalists spoke about their recent investigations.

This session delved into stories about deforestation, drugs, and mining. From transnational criminal networks to financial manoeuvres used to conceal illicit gains, the session highlighted recent investigations that have tracked illegally mined gold from the Amazon to India, cocaine from Colombia to European ports, and unmasked the hidden owners of offshore companies based in Panama and other Latin American countries.

As journalists, understanding the methodology behind corrupt activity and learning how to better expose it is crucial for producing impactful transnational collaborative pieces.

In the session moderated by Carlos Huertas, the director of Connectas, you can hear from:

Bianca Padró Ocasio, an independent journalist working in both the US and Peru. As part of OjoPúblico’s Cross Border Investigations Network, she contributed to the Dirty Gold Routes investigative series on the new destinations of gold illegally mined in the Amazon. Recently, for OjoPúblico, she also co-produced a short documentary on a logging concession encroaching on an isolated Indigenous tribe’s lands and contributed to OCCRP’s NarcoFiles project with a story on how illegal mining has become an increasingly important source of income for armed groups in Colombia.

Joseph Poliszuk, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of, a trailblazing news website dedicated to investigative journalism. He leads a team of intrepid reporters who have produced major investigations revealing financial misdeeds and corruption in Venezuela, which has been ranked one of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International.

Lilia Saúl, an investigative reporter with OCCRP, who is based in Mexico. She spent more than 15 years reporting for media outlets such as El Universal, Emeequis magazine, and Mexicanos contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad. She received the 2016 Ortega y Gasset Award in the multimedia category for an investigation into forced disappearances and was a finalist for the Data Journalism Awards in 2015 for an investigation into how the Mexican government was misusing public trusts. In 2023, she was part of the team that worked on the NarcoFiles, on the globe-spanning business of drug trafficking.

And Luiz Fernando Toledo, a Brazilian investigative and data journalist. Alongside co-founding two nonprofit organizations specializing in data and public records to support investigative journalism — Fiquem Sabendo and — he has overseen more than US$300,000 in journalism and public transparency projects that have helped produce over 4,000 stories globally. He currently also collaborates with UOL and Revista Piaui. In 2023, he was part of a global team that used data to interrogate green claims, resulting in an impactful investigation, Deforestation Inc.


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