• Criminal Gangs Control Mexican Territory: Govt

    Mexico's government secretary said that organized criminal groups now control whole areas of territory in the country, and charge fees for other groups to operate there.

  • For Mexican Cartels, Cash is King

    Drug trafficking is the single most lucrative activity for criminal groups in Mexico, but while the supply chain and production methods associated with it are fairly well known, the micro-economic dynamics of the industry are often overlooked.

  • Extortion Rings Run From Colombia's Prisons

    With talk in Medellin about creating a cashless public transport system and moves in Bogota towards installing cell phone signal jammers in prison, Colombian authorities are considering increasingly dramatic measures in order to combat extortion. This is one of the most lucrative yet under-reported criminal enterprises in Colombia, and while official statistics signal that extortion is rising in cities, InSight considers these numbers to be far too low.

  • InSide: The Most Dangerous Job in the World

    Much of the headlines in the region about organized crime are focused on the chase, capture, and sometimes death of infamous criminal leaders. But there are many more subtle battles in motion, which have a far greater impact on every day life in these countries than the fight between the mega-cartels and their rivals, or the government’s efforts to decapitate the most well-known drug traffickers.

    Take, for example, the adventure it must be to ride a public bus in Guatemala. Since 2007, over 500 bus drivers have been killed in violent incidents in Guatemala making driving a bus in that Central American nation arguably the most dangerous profession on the planet. The violence is not limited to the drivers. In 2010, while 155 bus drivers were killed, another 54 bus assistants (so-called ‘brochas’), 71 passengers and 14 presumed criminals were also murdered.

  • Two Attacks on PEMEX Highlight Increasing Dangers

    Two attacks by suspected organized criminal gangs on state oil workers in Mexico in recent days have left two dead and one kidnapped.

    The attacks, which occurred in two different parts of the country, highlight the way in which gangs are increasingly targeting Mexico’s state oil company, known by its Spanish acronym PEMEX, as a way of diversifying their criminal portfolios.

  • Three Bombs in Colombian City as Rebels Increase Extortion

    Another bomb, the third in a week, exploded outside the offices of a wealthy rancher in the city of Neiva in the southern department of Huila, a stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

  • Bus Bomb in Guatemala Kills Six

    At least six people died and another dozen were wounded after a bomb exploded on a public bus on Monday in Guatemala City.

  • Phone Extortion in Mexico Rising

    Threatening phone calls made by supposed members of violent crime groups like the Zetas increased 210 percent from 2009, says a Mexican security agency.

  • New Trade for Traffickers: Cattle Rustling

    Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) like Mexico's La Familia, is entering the cattle rustling business, according to a lengthy article in El Universal. The organizations are using their superior firepower to steal the cattle, at times on the roads in broad daylight, victims tell the newspaper. The cattle is sold in the black market or to slaughter houses that are not vigilant of the paperwork. Two of every three robberies is not reported, the story adds. The robberies have gone up between 30 percent and 50 percent in the states of Mexico, Chiapas, Coahuila, Jalisco, Michoacán, Querétaro, Sinaloa, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas.

  • The El Salvador Businessman Who Does Not Pay the Gangs

    Catalino Mirando, owner of Acostes bus company, poses with his 9 mm pistol in his office.

    El Salvador's main passenger transport entrepreneur dares to resist paying extortion to the country's gangs. Catalino Miranda already knows that the police and prosecution services will not solve the problem, and he has chosen to arm his company and hire former military personnel for security. Most transport entrepreneurs, buses and minibuses pay "aguinaldo" (extortion fees) to gangs, but Catalino refuses to do so even though it has cost, according to him, a couple of dozen of his employees.