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Google: Technology key to fighting Mexico drug cartels


Google is working on technology that could help combat organized crime around the world.


Justin Sullivan

Search engine giant Google has experimented with self-driving cars and alternative energy.

Now it wants to find ways to dismantle global criminal networks, including Mexico’s drug cartels.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt told a conference on international crime in Los Angeles this week that technology was the key to combating highly sophisticated drug trafficking organizations that often have access to better gadgets than law enforcement agencies.

The Guardian reported that Google Ideas, the search engine’s think tank, has joined forces with the Council on Foreign Relations, Interpol and other organizations to look at how technology can be used against organized crime.

During a recent visit to Mexico’s northern city of Juarez, which is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in the country, Schmidt said he was struck by the helplessness felt by civil society leaders, activists, private-sector officials and young people, who have watched their city become overwhelmed by violence.

"Defeated, helpless, these people have been so hardened in their experience with cartels that they have lost battles and they have lost hope," Schmidt told the conference, the Associated Press reported.

"They were looking for a universal hammer to protect them. For me the answer was obvious. It was technology."

Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen outlined some of the company’s thinking in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Tuesday.

One idea is to create a network that would allow people to safely report criminal activity to police and journalists without fear of retribution, which is currently a major deterrent to witnesses volunteering information to authorities.

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