Gang member in Belize City

The Belize government, struggling to meet national debt payments, has ended its controversial gang truce program, a measure almost certain to result in increased violence and homicides in 2013.

After spending more than $1 million, the Belize government announced that funding for the gang truce had dried up, reported Belize Times. The last payment was scheduled for this month. Begun in September 2011, the gang truce provided work opportunities for some 200 gang members, essentially paying them not to kill each other, at a cost of around $20,000 a week.

The truce led to an immediate drop in homicides, even though there were some isolated outbreaks of gang violence, particularly in April and May 2012. However none of the government money went into finding long-term solutions to address Belize's gang problem.

InSight Crime Analysis

Inspired in part by the Mara truce in El Salvador, the Belize program took a different direction. Whereas in El Salvador the truce was brokered by the Catholic Church, and involved better prison conditions for gang leaders, in Belize the government effectively paid the 13 gangs in the program not to engage in criminal activities. This caused controversy, with critics insisting there were far more deserving targets for the funds, and better social investment projects that would have a longer lasting impact.

While the gang truce certainly lead to a reduction in violence, it may have actually strengthened some of the gangs, which better organized themselves to take advantage of the government subsidies. While there is the presence of both the powerful Central American gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, most of the Belize gangs style themselves after the US Bloods and Crips. The most powerful street gang in Belize is believed to be the George Street Bloods. Other Bloods gangs include Kings Park Posse, P.I.V., The Jungle, and Brick City, while the Crips have Majestic Alley Crips, River-Side Crips, Ghost Town Crips and Third World.

The tiny nation of Belize is becoming increasingly important as a transit nation for cocaine heading northwards to Mexico and the principal market of the US. There is not yet any evidence of Belizean Street gangs getting involved in the transnational element of the drug industry, although they do make money from the local distribution of drugs, particularly marijuana.

Investigations

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

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.

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...

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...

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: 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.

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...

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...

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.