The modern Sherlock Holmes is Colombian

Eduardo Salcedo combats the growing criminal complexity with the latest technology tools

The modern Sherlock Holmes is Colombian

"Traditional justice is obsolete", is the convincing statement of Eduardo Salcedo, a guy from the capital of Colombia who moves around the world solving criminal cases of all kinds thanks to the use of artificial intelligence. This detective of the future combines philosophical theories with the use of big data to expose plots of corruption, drug trafficking or criminal infiltration in the apparatus of state power.

Salcedo studied Philosophy and then got a Master's degree in Political Science at Universdad de los Andes, but it was as a result of an investigation into the crime in Colombia when he realized that the processes that justice uses have remained anchored in the past, and that the system is not prepared to investigate new cases of corruption and criminal networks that operate internationally.

Contacting Salcedo is not an easy task, since on a Monday he can be in Iraq supervising the transitional justice process after the war and on Thursday of the same week in Guatemala investigating a case of corruption with the Prosecutor's Office. In 2017 he was also in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and the United States unmasking different crimes. Salcedo confirms that he has lived in Tampa (Florida) for about three years thanks to a scholarship he earned for, according to his words, having "extraordinary abilities".

His research has allowed him to reach the most remote places in the world: in Bulgaria he closely followed the trafficking of white women on the Eastern European border; in South Africa, rhinoceros horn traffic; In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he investigated coltan contraband, as well as the gold one in Colombia; also he thoroughly investigated the corruption of the Fujimori government in Peru.

"Nowadays, criminal networks are getting bigger and more complex and people's brains are not capable of covering such a large amount of information", says Salcedo. As an example, he puts the case Lava Jato, one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of Brazil and that was unveiled in 2014. This complex network stole more than 2,600 million euros through money laundering and it was discovered that there was up to 800 people involved. As Salcedo explains, "according to the anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the limit of the social structure that a human being can cover is 150 individuals, so a judge or prosecutor would be before the utopian task of managing a case with almost a thousand actors, this is why we need to resort to technology so that it can streamline these processes".

Big data has allowed Salcedo to simplify the results of his investigations through visualization tools. With graphics, clouds and structures he could represent, for example, how the Michoacana Family was organized, one of the most powerful drug trafficking cartels in Mexico.

This Sherlock Holmes of the 21st century has no office, works in the field, and receives the support of dozens of collaborators in areas such as sociology, anthropology, economics, or linguistics. For Salcedo the greatest barrier is the little interest of governments and institutions when it comes to seeing technology as an ally against crime and denouncing the permissiveness and impunity with which corruption continues to contaminate dozens of countries.


Latin American Post | José María González Alonso
Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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