A bus waits for passengers in Guatemala

Murders of public transport drivers in Guatemala more than doubled in the first six months of 2013 compared to the same period last year, a sign of rising peril in what is already one of the world's most dangerous professions.

A total of 97 bus, taxi and mototaxi drivers have been killed so far this year compared to 46 in the first six months of 2012, according to government figures reported by EFE.

Murders of women have also risen in the same period, from 263 in January to June 2012 to 354 this year. Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla attributed this to a rise in women's involvement in crime, reported Prensa Libre.

Meanwhile, a Public Ministry spokesperson said trash collectors and prostitutes working in the center of Guatemala City were being extorted by gangs. Up to $100 is being demanded from trash collectors weekly, while prostitutes are "taxed" between $15 and $20, according to officials.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to the government's figures, Guatemala has seen a rise in all murders of around 7.5 percent during the first half of 2013 compared to 2012, following a significant drop in the homicide rate over the last three years. However the massive leap in deaths of transport workers goes far beyond this, illustrating how drivers face disproportionate levels of danger. According to trade association Coordinadora Nacional de Transporte, more than a thousand drivers were killed by organized criminals between 2006 and 2012.

Extortion is a major income source for the principal street gangs in Guatemala, the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, as well as smaller organizations, and transport workers are an easy target. The fact that even low-income street workers are being targeted illustrates just how entrenched extortion is at all levels of Guatemalan society.

The rise in the number of murders of women also exceeds the overall upwards trend in murders, but it is dangerous to write this off as simply a result of more women becoming involved in crime, as the minister attempted to do. 

One theory for the uptick in murders is that the maras are attempting to show their strength in order to pressure the government into giving gang leaders special treatment in jails or even agree to negotiations like those seen in El Salvador.

Investigations

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

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  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.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

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.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...