Like thousands of viewers and many critics worldwide, I have a new addiction: the Netflix series Narcos, depicting the building of a transnational criminal empire run from Colombia by the world’s most notorious criminal, Pablo Escobar. It is hard not to be baffled by the power and audacity wielded during the 1970s and 1980s by Escobar, played with a heavy Brazilian accent by Wagner Moura. But interested as I am by urban security studies, I am also fascinated by the series’ portrayal of Medellín, the Colombian city that was formerly the regional hub for transnational drug trafficking and Escobar’s headquarters. Read more

By Conchita Sarnoff of ARVT

On an ordinary Monday in May, Ellen Gonzales woke up to find a handwritten note nailed to the front door of her home in La Palma, El Salvador. Her 11-year-old son Bryan, it said, had been tocado: “selected” as a recruit for La Mara, one of the most violent of the Hispanic organised crime gangs operating across Central America and the US. She decided it was time to run. Read more

Crime, ill-gotten gains and violence are closely linked with electoral politics in India and with 30 per cent of lawmakers in the outgoing parliament facing criminal charges, the issue of ‘money and muscle power’ in the world’s largest democracy has once again emerged as a serious concern in the ongoing general election.

Civil rights groups such as the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have mounted a robust campaign to educate voters about the background of the candidates and have joined hands with 1,200 non-government organisations across the country to drive home the message. Read more

Voting is already underway in the state of Maharashtra, with citizens in the city of Mumbai casting their ballot next week.

And to stir things up, National Election Watch has released a new report analysing the financial and criminal records of candidates in the region. The questionable past of many leading figures in Indian politics is, sadly, old news. But the fact that organisations are digging up such detailed information on would-be leaders is a sign of progress in the world’s largest democracy, where governance has become the issue of the day. Read more

South Korea’s stock exchange opened a gold trading platform on Monday with the hope of boosting transparency of gold trades and rooting out shady deals used for tax evasion.

Eight brokerages and 49 dealers were allowed to participate in the market. They will get tax benefits to encourage their active participation and they will be exempted from trading commissions temporarily until March 2015. Importers of gold to be traded on the exchange will also be exempted from tariffs to increase supply. Read more

In recent weeks, social media in Brazil has been abuzz with talk of the rise of a new breed of vigilantes or justiceiros in society.

With the World Cup later this year, and the summer Olympics in Rio in 2016, overseas visitors will naturally be concerned with their safety. However, the sort of treatment being meted out by citizens rather than officials may do more harm than good for Brazil’s image. Read more

By Charles Okeahalam of AGH Capital

Tom Hank’s portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips’ encounter with the pirate Abduwali Muse aboard the MV Maersk Alabama has focused public attention on an issue threatening an industry that, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), handles more than 90 per cent of global trade. Read more

A fast track Delhi court is expected to hand down sentences on Friday to four men convicted of December’s gang rape of a trainee physiotherapist. [update: the men have been sentenced to hang]

It is a chance for the court to redeem itself after a teenager who was the most brutal of the attackers was sentenced last month to just three years in juvenile detention, a decision that sparked public outrage. Read more

Vladimir Putin was in typically punchy form at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday promising to invest billions in infrastructure projects, massively expand Russia’s energy trade with China, and instruct every state official from the lowest police officer to the highest minister to devote themselves to improving Russia’s business climate. Read more

South Korea’s shutdown of two more atomic power plants because of safety concerns could hardly be worse news for the country’s nuclear energy industry, coming as Seoul struggles to increase nuclear exports to developing countries. Read more

Last week Ranbaxy Laboratories, India’s biggest pharmaceuticals company, must have thought it had at last settled an eight-year dispute when it paid $500m in fines and compensation and pleaded guilty to felony charges related to production and distribution of adulterated drugs in the US.

But it isn’t over yet. Daiichi Sankyo – the Tokyo based drugmaker that paid quite a premium for a controlling stake in Ranbaxy back in 2008 – has taken the row to a new front. Read more

The reputation of Chinese pharmaceuticals in Africa has taken a hammering over the last couple of years. Far from curing disease, Chinese companies are accused of sitting at the centre of a vast counterfeiting industry dumping fake medicines on the continent at a cost of billions of dollars and countless lives.

But two Chinese pharmaceutical companies – Guilin Pharmaceuticals and Watson Global Pharmaceuticals Ind – are breaking new ground by introducing SMS-based authenticity checks for their anti-malarial drugs in Africa. Read more

Rat meat disguised as mutton, fake pharmaceuticals, entire replica Apple stores – China has seen almost every scam imaginable. But in the latest scandal unearthed by Chinese police the pirates have started to intrude into people’s love lives.

In a nationwide crackdown the authorities have arrested 37 people on suspicion of manufacturing nearly 5m fake brand-name condoms and selling them to unwitting consumers through supermarkets, pharmacies and sex shops across the country. Read more

Aerosmith wrote a hit single about “Livin’ on the Edge” but it seems that Jakarta, which has one of Southeast Asia’s hottest live music scenes, is just a little bit too edgy for the ageing US rockers.

The Bad Boys from Boston, as they are called, have cancelled their planned gig in Jakarta this Saturday because of unspecified safety concerns, disappointing the more than 12,000 fans who had bought tickets and representatives of Indonesia’s burgeoning concert promotion industry. Read more

When Wang Qishan (left) was made head of the Communist party’s anti-corruption agency, it was expected that he would put his tough-guy reputation to work in taking down high-ranking officials.

Nearly two months into the job, Wang has signed his first publicly reported investigation orders. Contrary to expectations, the targets are not big fish. Instead, they are a series of little-known bond traders. What explains Wang’s focus? Read more

China’s capital markets have a most placid surface. Domestic bonds have never experienced a default and equities have traded in a narrow range for more than a year.

But still waters run deep. Events of the past week have exposed the strains, turmoil and alleged crimes seething beneath the calm. Read more

The head of Shell’s Nigerian oil unit has warned that Africa’s largest oil producing country is in crisis as a result of a “significant upsurge” in oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Making the comments on Sunday following an aerial survey of its operations, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria’s managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said the company was losing 60,000 barrels of oil a day as a result of theft, the heaviest losses in three years. Read more

Mexico’s national statistics office, known as Inegi, has published its first study of the impact of crime on the nation’s business community. And it makes for hair-raising reading.

The study, which covers 2011, showed that 37 per cent of firms in Mexico were victims of crime that year, about half of them more than once. But that is not all. Read more