News Analysis

What the DEA Can Learn from the Honduras Debacle

What the DEA Can Learn from the Honduras Debacle

A new US government report documents a series of missteps related to several deadly anti-drug actions in 2012 involving US law enforcement in Honduras, a strong reminder of the need to have a clear mandate, avoid improvisation and make room for oversight.

News Briefs

Mexico Police Killings Illustrate Failures of Vigilantism in Michoacán

Mexico Police Killings Illustrate Failures of Vigilantism in Michoacán

Police forces in Mexico's state of Michoacán have increasingly been subject to attacks, a reminder of the ongoing security crisis...

Argentina to Expand Drug Treatment Program for Minor Crimes Nationwide

Argentina to Expand Drug Treatment Program for Minor Crimes Nationwide

Argentina's national government is scaling up a pilot project that provides treatment instead of incarceration for drug addicts accused of...

Drug Seizures in Tumaco Make the 'Pacific Pearl' Colombia’s Cocaine Capital

Drug Seizures in Tumaco Make the 'Pacific Pearl' Colombia’s Cocaine Capital

The vast majority of Colombia's soaring cocaine production has apparently passed through a single municipality, Tumaco, over the first few...

Barrio 18 Members Sentenced to 390 Years for El Salvador Massacre

Barrio 18 Members Sentenced to 390 Years for El Salvador Massacre

Seven gang members were each condemned to 390 years in prison for the murder of eleven people in El Salvador...

Massive Jail Break Highlights Ongoing Turmoil in Brazil's Prisons

Massive Jail Break Highlights Ongoing Turmoil in Brazil's Prisons

Nearly 90 alleged gang members escaped from a prison in northern Brazil, yet another illustration of how criminal groups have...

Guatemala Fugitive 'La Patrona' Recaptured in El Salvador

Guatemala Fugitive 'La Patrona' Recaptured in El Salvador

Authorities in El Salvador arrested a fugitive crime boss who had escaped from a Guatemala prison two weeks earlier, with...

Investigations

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The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.