The lack of transparency in the private sector makes it easier for companies to commit abuses, hide their beneficial owners, and profit from corruption and illicit flows that lead to violence and serious human rights violations.

Starting in 2006, in Mexico, for example, there was an increase in violence and serious human rights violations. Given this, Empower began to trace and examine financial flows between the private and public sectors, including those that originate from or end with criminals and crim-inal organizations

Since 2018, we have collaborated with human rights organizations that accompany victims of grave crimes, particularly family members of disappeared persons, in order to contribute to their demands for truth and justice.

Our premise is that no one should benefit financially from grave human rights violations.

It is important to insist upon other forms of accountability that focus not only on direct perpetrators but also on providing information and analysis that help identify those who are ultimately responsible for grave crimes: the intellectual authors and final beneficiaries.

We take on the task of investigating the links between companies, government authorities, and organized crime as the key to explaining the dynamics that cause serious human rights violations.

We follow the money by mapping financial networks, and linking them with political and protection networks.


We follow the money by mapping financial networks, and linking them with political and protection networks. We we track illicit flows, including licenses, concessions, and other types of contracts.

We review judicial files to identify and analyze chains of command.

We map networks of “straw” men and women and nominal owners to identify actual beneficial owners.

We analyze how legal and illegal investments are expressed geographically using mapping tools.

We track business interests and assets through searches of public records and other official databases, including in tax havens.



Past state administrations, both in Coahuila and Veracruz, Mexico, have been exposed not only for billion dollar diversions of public resources but also for protecting and/or colluding with criminal organizations and an increase in grave human rights violations at the hands of state security forces.

However, the link between economic crimes and grave human rights violations has not been carefully studied beyond its implications in terms of corruption and impunity. 

Specifically, the role of companies within macro-criminal structures — for example, to launder profits unlawfully obtained by armed criminal actors — is often ignored.

Visit the website Ilicit Flows: https://flujosilicitos.colaboratorio.org


Empower was commissioned to conduct strategic research about corruption and collusion between public officials and violent actors in state prisons in Mexico. This project analyzed the role of the prisons within wider criminal networks in four states: Nuevo León, Durango, Tamaulipas, and Chihuahua.

This research supports our partners’ efforts to achieve truth and justice in Mexico by calling for investigations into allegations of grave crimes and seeking legal remedies and reparations for victims.


Using data about forced disappearances and other grave human rights violations, Empower conducts cartographic analysis to find the locations where the forced disappearances took place, identify likely perpetrators and collusion by government officials, and reveal possible links to megaproject investment, among other variables.

This research contributes information to aid the quest for truth and justice for grave crimes in Mexico.