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
  • 10
Prev Next

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...