Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro

The murder rate in Colombian capital Bogota has fallen to its lowest point in 27 years, following a citywide ban on carrying guns in public.

Homicides in the Colombian capital have dropped by 21 percent this year, with 817 murders between January and August, compared to 1,021 murders in the same period in 2011. That equates to a murder rate of 16.1 per 100,000 people for 2012, making Bogota less violent than Chicago, whose rate is 19 per 100,000.

According to BBC Mundo, Bogota’s murder rate stood at 22 per 100,000 people before Mayor Gustavo Petro's administration implemented a three-month ban on guns in public places in February 2012. The ban has since been extended twice, most recently in August, for another three months. Petro stated that the gun restriction had reduced the number of deaths caused by firearms by 58 percent.

In an interview with the BBC before the gun ban went into effect, Petro’s chief of staff estimated that about 60 percent of Bogota murders involved firearms.

InSight Crime Analysis

Most Latin American countries far exceed the global average for the proportion of murders committed with firearms, according to an August report by the Small Arms Survey. The survey found that firearms were involved in 60 percent of murders throughout the region, compared to a global average of 42 percent, with El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela among the worst afflicted.

If Bogota's gun restriction policy is indeed causing the capital's dramatic fall in homicides, it could provide a model for other cities attempting to curb their murder rates.

However, a gun ban on its own does not necessarily lead a drop in violence, as evidenced by Medellin. Colombia's second largest city imposed a year-long ban on guns in January, yet has seen violence rage in certain areas as rival gangs battle for control over key neighborhoods. The dynamics of a city's criminal underworld, and whether or not it is a crucial point in the drug trade, also play a vital role in determining violence levels.

Investigations

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

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...

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...

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. 

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...