The Central American Integration System, SICA

The governments of Central America and the Dominican Republic are planning measures to share information on criminal records and allow “hot pursuit” chases across borders, in an effort to fight transnational criminal groups.

Designed to target organized crime groups, the agreement will allow law enforcement agencies from one country to pursue suspects over the border into a neighboring another country. The agreement will also see states share criminal records so suspects are prosecuted as repeat offenders for crimes they have committed in other countries.

Representatives of the governments agreed on the wording of the deal at a conference in Panama last week, reported EFE. Once the agreement is signed by justice ministers from each country, it will be taken to the mid-2013 Central American Integration System's (SICA) annual summit for signature by the presidents.

InSight Crime Analysis

Weak law enforcement cooperation between countries and lack of border controls has helped make Central America an attractive venue for organized crime with criminals able to move quickly into the next country in order to escape pursuit by the law. One example is offered by the case of Jose Natividad Luna Pereira, or “Chepe Luna,” a Salvadoran drug trafficker who in recent years has been hiding out in Honduras, where he also holds citizenship, after a series of failed police operations to capture him in El Salvador.

Those that do get caught may get away with relativly light sentences despite a long criminal history if it is their first offence in the country where they are arrested.

Free movement policies, like the Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement, have also made it easier for criminals to do business between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The Central American Parliament, which oversees SICA, has plans to expand the Central American Court of Justice to further coordinate law enforcement efforts in the region, currently a major corridor for trafficking drugs from South America up to Mexico and the United States.

The case of Facundo Cabral, an Argentine folk singer murdered in Guatemala in 2011, has also drawn attention to the importance of cooperation in the region. Costa Rican Alejandro Jimenez, alias "El Palidejo," allegedly ordered the hit, which was intended to kill Nicaraguan nightclub owner Henry Fariñas. Authorities in all three countries have been cooperating in the case, which has also led to arrests in Colombia.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

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...

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

'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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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.