Soldiers patrol San Pedro Sula streets

Honduras' 2013 homicide rate may be over six percent lower than the previous year, according to preliminary data, which the government has chalked up to security improvements, though underlying problems continue unresolved.

According to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), Honduras' homicide rate could fall to 80 per 100,000 for 2013, from 85.5 per 100,000 (also according to UNAH numbers) in 2012, representing a 6.4 percent decrease, or 5.5 point drop, in the rate, reported El Heraldo.

The director of the observatory, Migdonia Ayestas, said the apparent decrease in the homicide rate was due to an increase in the population, and that they hoped to see a decrease in terms of absolute numbers as well. Nonetheless, she said the statistic was important for Honduras, as it would help boost tourism and the economy.

National Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio attributed the reduction to the "systematic" purging of the police force, while Defense Minister Marlon Pascua reported a higher 12 percent reduction in the homicide rate, which he linked to security gains.

InSight Crime Analysis

Crime-related violence in Honduras, attributed in large part to the MS-13 and Barrio 18 street gangs, has been estimated to cost the country 10 percent in annual GDP. In 2012, UNAH reported a record year for homicides in Honduras in terms of actual numbers, with 68 more killings than in 2011, though the homicide rate itself dropped a point from 86.5 per 100,000 in 2011. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) placed the 2011 rate higher, at 91.6 per 100,000.

In February 2013, Honduras deployed the military to the streets of Tegucigalpa, the capital, and San Pedro Sula, the world murder capital. The military reported a subsequent, though unclear, drop in crime and homicides in San Pedro Sula.

Despite the projected reduction in the homicide rate, the country would continue to be the most violent in the world for 2013 unless rates in other countries rise significantly, and Honduras continues to face a number of serious security problems. An ongoing police reform process has led to the removal of 652 officers according to government figures, but the corrupt police force is itself a major source of violence, reportedly responsible for 149 extrajudicial killings in two years. In addition, gang extortion of businesses and residents is an ongoing and costly problem.

Investigations

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

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...

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...

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...

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.

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 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...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

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...

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...

'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...