Weekly InSight: Special Investigation on Venezuela's Prisons

Weekly InSight: Special Investigation on Venezuela's Prisons

In our September 14 Facebook Live session, Co-director Jeremy McDermott and Senior Investigator Deborah Bonello spoke about InSight Crime's special investigation of Venezuela's prison system, the final part of a broader project looking at Latin America's prison dilemma. 

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  • Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

    Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima Oliva, who, for a time, imposed his rule inside the jails before being swallowed by the same system he helped create.

  • Brazil Authorities Caught in Prison System’s Vicious Cycle

    Brazil prisoners armed for battle (Source: YouTube)

    The current violent crisis inside Brazil's penitentiary system is a perfect illustration of why authorities ignore -- or militarize -- prisons at their own peril.

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

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    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 providing a typology of prison gangs in the region.

  • Latest Brazil Prison Riot Signals Emerging Security Crisis

    26 people died in Brazil's latest prison riot.

    A new round of violence in Brazil's prisons is reviving concerns that ongoing problems in the penitentiary system could have implications for the country's broader security situation.

  • Lucrative Cocaine Trade Fuels Gang Presence in Brazil's Amazon

    Cocaine smuggling routes from Peru to Brazil

    An official intelligence report determined that the Peru-to-Brazil cocaine trade is worth $4.5 billion each year, spurring the growth of national and local gangs in Brazil's remote Amazon region, which was recently hit by a spate of prison violence. 

  • Brazil Starts New Year with Series of Brutal Prison Killings

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    Nearly 100 prisoners have been killed in Brazil since the start of the year, in a display of extreme violence reportedly spurred by a gang war unfolding in a penitentiary system suffering from severe overcrowding.

  • Guatemala Ex-President and VP Still Wield Power From Jail: Report

    Former Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti, and former President Otto Pérez Molina

    A recent report has suggested that Guatemala's incarcerated former president and vice president continue to wield power from behind bars over a year after their fall from grace, casting fresh doubt on whether this monumental case has achieved any lasting successes against impunity.

  • Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

    Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against former Guatemalan officials, but the multiple schemes connected to him represent the apex of the Guatemalan state's spiral towards a mafia state, and the complicated and perhaps ongoing relationship between him and the international community.

  • The Brazilian Prison System: Challenges and Prospects for Reform

    Brazil's prisons are notoriously overcrowded

    The prison population throughout Latin America has been growing steadily for the past few decades. Harsh drug laws and anti-gang policies have led to a massive increase of the number of people incarcerated, leading to overcrowding in underfunded and often neglected penitentiary systems. The majority of prisoners have yet to be tried, and may wait for years for a hearing. In some countries, gangs continue to operate and recruit new members from inside prisons, and gang leaders order extortion and homicides from behind bars.

  • The Unbelievable Hell Inside El Salvador’s Prisons

    El Salvador's prisons are chronically overcrowded

    A plague of fungal skin diseases, untreated deadly infections, constant threats of tuberculosis epidemics, people fed with their own hands, extreme overcrowding and children locked up with their mothers. This is what the human rights observers reported during the first few months of the extraordinary measures implemented across prisons for El Salvador's gang members.