• Dismantled Network in Peru Had Familiar Criminal Characteristics

    The detained members of "Los Cobras de la Esperanza"

    Authorities in Peru have dismantled a criminal group that brought together distinct elements seen in many of Latin America's organized crime structures: private security firms, prisons, and the alleged involvement of military personnel. 

  • Power Vacuum Leads to Fighting Among Chinese Mafias in Argentina

    An extortion note left by a Chinese mafia

    Three Chinese mafias are reportedly vying for criminal dominance following the capture of the leader of the most powerful mafia in Argentina, demonstrating the resilience of these organizations and the authorities' failure to disrupt their activities. 

  • Closing of Private School in Honduras Linked to Extortion

    Gangs target students and schools for extortion

    The temporary closing of a private school in Honduras may have been due to the imposition of what administrators are calling a "war tax," an illustration of how extortion negatively affects the daily life of so many in this Central American nation. 

  • Paraguay Rebel Group Extorts Landowners to Build Local Support

    Franz Wiebe has been kept hostage by the EPP since July 2016

    Paraguay's main guerrilla group has demanded that the family of a hostage provide aid to impoverished communities in exchange for the prisoner's release, highlighting one of the ways the rebels build community support.

  • 2016 Deadliest Year for Catholic Priests in Mexico

    The funeral of Alejo Naborí, one of the three priests murdered in Mexico this year

    Mexico remains the most dangerous country in the world for Catholic priests, according to a report from the Catholic Church that calls out the government for its lack of action in the face of rising violence against religious officials. 

  • Report Says El Salvador Gangs Have Created a Parallel State

    An MS13 graffiti being painted over by an official in El Salvador

    A new study argues that powerful street gangs have gone a long way toward creating a parallel state in El Salvador, providing a helpful framework to illustrate the extent to which the gangs impact society and undermine state governance.

  • 'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

    Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well as in parts of Maryland and Virginia, all host to tens of thousands of Central American immigrants. In early 2016, he participated in the investigation, which led to the sentencing of half a dozen MS13 members from the "Sailors Loco" clique in Virginia. Among the charges for sentencing were eight counts of homicide. Currently on the verge of retirement, LeValley believes that the Salvadoran gang has entered a new expansion phase along the East Coast of the United States.

  • Investigation of Argentina's Largest Chinese Mafia Leads to New Arrests

    The recently detained migration official, left, and two Chinese nationals

    A high-level migration official and two Chinese nationals were arrested in Argentina as part of an ongoing investigation into the country's largest Chinese mafia, revealing the scope of the group's criminal activity and its penetration of state institutions. 

  • 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 the murders of several youths. Investigations also show an increase in communications between MS13 members incarcerated in El Salvador and gang cliques in Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. And they illustrate that the incarcerated gang leadership has given explicit orders for the cells in those areas to take back the East Coast.

  • The Bus Route That Institutionalized Extortion in El Salvador

    Extortion payments are deducted from some bus drivers' salaries

    In El Salvador, extortion demanded by gangs has become so normalized that there is a bus company that deducts the cost of extortion directly from drivers' payroll in order to make an annual payment to the Barrio 18. The drivers understand it: refusing to pay is equivalent to death and reporting the extortion, in a lawless state that has lost all territorial control, would do very little.