News Analysis

Blacklisting of Mexico Heroin Trafficking Group Could Signal Changes to US Strategy

Blacklisting of Mexico Heroin Trafficking Group Could Signal Changes to US Strategy

The US Treasury Department has assigned a little-known heroin trafficking group based in Mexico to its "Kingpin" list, raising questions as to why US authorities are taking this step now and what it says about broader shifts to US anti-narcotics strategy. 

News Briefs

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...

Layers of Corruption Facilitate Fuel Theft in Mexico

Layers of Corruption Facilitate Fuel Theft in Mexico

From corrupt oil workers to public officials to possibly even private companies, fuel theft from the Mexico's state-owned oil company...

Can Peru's Ambitious Eradication Goal Reduce Coca Crops?

Can Peru's Ambitious Eradication Goal Reduce Coca Crops?

The government of Peru hopes to halve the amount of coca grown in the country by 2021, an ambitious plan...

Peru Authorities Struggle to Combat Illegal Mining as Deforestation Continues

Peru Authorities Struggle to Combat Illegal Mining as Deforestation Continues

Peru has lost hundreds of hectares of rainforests to illegal mining in recent months, a reminder of the environmental damage...

Investigations

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Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

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...

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

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...

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...

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: 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.

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: 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. 

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...