News Analysis

The gang-related "Truce Trial" continues in El Salvador

Carlos Eduardo Burgos Nuila, alias "Nalo," is a leader of El Salvador's Barrio 18 Revolucionarios gang. He is currently confined to pretrial detention on charges of illicit association and has become Attorney General Douglas Meléndez's star witness in the trial for the so-called "Truce Case," in which 18 mid-level Salvadoran officials are accused of smuggling cell phones and other items into prisons, and of committing arbitrary acts within the framework of the pact between the Salvadoran state and the Barrio 18 and MS13 gangs between 2012 and 2013.

The FARC will now begin reintegrating into civilian life

August 15 is the final day of the historic disarmament of Colombia's FARC rebels, paving the way for the next crucial part of the peace process: successfully reintegrating them into society. But the former combatants are vulnerable and tensions are high. Will the government be able to prevent the deterioration of Colombia's security situation and ensure that demobilized fighters do not return to crime?

Graffiti that reads, "Truce between politicians"

In our August 17 Facebook Live session, Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos and Senior Editor Mike LaSusa spoke about a trial related to El Salvador's controversial gang truce that has spotlighted close ties between gangs and politics in the Central American country.

José David Figueroa Agosto

The man who was once considered the most powerful drug kingpin in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico has been convicted and sentenced to decades in a US prison, raising questions as to who will step up to take control over the growing drug trade in this small but important trafficking corridor.

Colombia's profitable emerald mining industry has alleged ties to illegal activities

The United States has requested the extradition of several Colombian emerald magnates on drug trafficking charges, marking the first time US authorities have targeted members of the country's lucrative emerald industry, and possibly foreshadowing a new chain of indictments to come.

Kids behind bars in Brazil

In recent years, heavy-handed strategies and mass incarceration have been the preferred tactics used by many politicians in the region. Now, facing evidence that this approach has not been effective in lowering levels of violence, some governments are ready to take a different path.

Investigations

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InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

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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...

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Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

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  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

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

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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.

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

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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...

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...