Latin America has been the site of extensive raw material extraction ever since its colonization by Europeans in the late 15th century. Throughout this period, large-scale resource extraction and associated practices—agroindustry, deforestation, disposal of waste and dangerous substances, industrial fishing, mining, and wildlife trafficking—have been the cause of widespread environmental crime and social conflict in Latin America, harming ecosystems and human and nonhuman species. Environmental degradation has simultaneously triggered further crimes such as the establishment of illegal markets and the creation of monopolies that control natural resources. Furthermore, environmental victimization has heightened social conflict in Latin American societies.
Latin American criminologists began paying attention to environmental destruction and socioenvironmental conflicts in Latin America in the 1970s, but anglophone criminologists paid little if any attention to these criminologists for at least four decades. But the recent maturation of Southern green criminology has seen an increased focus of criminological research on environmental crime in Latin America. Latin American criminologists have exposed instances of primary, secondary, and tertiary green crimes in Latin America, and by so doing they have added depth to the formulations of anglophone green criminologists.
Southern green criminology is concerned with the sociocriminological study of environmental crime in the Global South, while being attentive to (a) the legacy of colonization and North–South and core–periphery divides in the production of environmental crime, (b) the epistemological contributions of the marginalized, impoverished, and oppressed, and (c) the particularities of the contexts of the Global South. Southern green criminologists are currently producing innovative academic knowledge about the causes of, consequences of, and potential responses to environmental crime in Latin America.