Juan Ricardo Gómez Hecht will provide insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on organized crime. He will also discuss ways the Salvadoran maras (gangs) have adapted to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as by enforcing quarantines, curfews, and social distancing.  

Juan Ricardo Gómez Hecht is a specialist and expert from the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime. Previously, he served as Senior Analyst for the Ministry of Defense. Professor Gómez Hecht worked for 16 years in public security, holding various important positions within the General Inspectorate of the National Civilian Police of El Salvador. Academically, he is a political scientist and holds two master’s degrees: in Public Administration and Human Rights and Education for Peace (University of El Salvador). Currently, he is a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Professor Gómez Hecht possesses teaching experience that spans 19 years at the graduate and postgraduate level at various El Salvadoran universities, the National Public Security Academy, the International Law Enforcement Academy, and most Officer Schools of the Armed Forces. He has been an Adjunct Professor in the William J Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington DC. He is an academic researcher accredited by the Council for Science and Technology of El Salvador and has published works in national and international specialized journals in the United States, Spain, Colombia and Nicaragua. He has also lectured on defense and security issues at the national level and in the United States, Mexico, Morocco, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

Phil Williams will moderate this event. Williams is a Professor of International Affairs at GSPIA. Dr. Williams is the former holder of the Wesley W. Posvar Chair and Director of the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. Dr. Williams specializes in the study of transnational organized crime, the crisis of governance and the resurgence of geopolitical competition.

Dr. Williams was founding editor of the journal Transnational Organized Crime and has edited several volumes on combating criminal networks such as Russian organized crime and human trafficking. He also consulted both the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and United States government agencies. He has given congressional testimony on organized crime, is a joint author for the United Nations' study on Offshore Financial Centers and Money Laundering. Dr. Williams' other focuses center on alliances among criminal organizations, terrorist finances, drugs and violence in Mexico, complexity theory and intelligence analysis.