• Connect with us on Linkedin

MS-13 Use of Guns in Guatemala Shows Modus Operandi

Weapons seized from a street gang in Guatemala Weapons seized from a street gang in Guatemala

Forensic analysis has revealed that the MS-13 gang in Guatemala used 32 guns to allegedly commit 238 murders, offering insight into the gang's modus operandi and highlighting some of the difficulties of tackling organized crime with gun control.

Linkedin
Google +

Members of Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif) used the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (Ibis) to identify 1,133 guns that had been used in multiple crimes, reported Prensa Libre.

Of those weapons, prosecutors linked 32 to murders they believe were committed by the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) due to the style of execution and the relationship of the MS-13 to the victims -- who prosecutors say were all members of rival gangs, prison guards, or victims of robbery or extortion.

Prosecutors will use the weapons as evidence in the case they are preparing against eight MS-13 leaders, who they accuse of ordering the hits.

According to Inacif, pistols were by far the most common weapon used to commit crime and 85 percent of those pistols were stolen from the National Police and law enforcement agents.

InSight Crime Analysis

In Guatemala, the street gangs known as Maras -- principally the MS-13 and their Barrio 18 rivals -- operate in small cells known as "clicas" (cliques), which have between 10 - 50 gang members. As the forensic analysis suggests, instead of all members of a clique being armed, the group will have a small number of weapons, which are stored in a secret place where only members can access them and use as needed. In some cases there could be as few as one "murder" weapon used by an entire clique.

There are over one million unregistered guns in Guatemala. The fact that so few of them are used in organized crime shows how difficult it will be to limit the activities of street gangs through gun regulation. What's more, many of these weapons were stolen -- or possibly bought, as happens elsewhere in the region -- from the security forces, illustrating the challenge of controlling the gangs' access to weapons.

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

InSight Crime Special Series

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

See entire series »

 

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill

Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

See entire series »

El Salvador's Gang Truce

El Salvador's Gang Truce

The truce between El Salvador's two largest gangs -- the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 -- opens up new possibilities in how to deal with

See entire series »

Juarez After The War

Juarez After The War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality.

See entire series »

The Zetas And The Battle For Monterrey

The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime delves into the Zetas' battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

See entire series »

Slavery in Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into modern slavery, looking at how Latin America’s criminal groups traffic human beings and force them to work as slaves.

See entire series »

FARC, Peace and Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, the enemies of the negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the process are high.

See entire series »

Displacement in Latin America

Displacement in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into the new face of displacement in Latin America, where organized criminal groups are expanding and forcing people to flee.

See entire series »

Target: Migrants

Target: Migrants

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers.

See entire series »

Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas in Guatemala

Mexico's Zetas have taken Guatemala by storm, and they are testing this country and the rest of the region: fail this test, and Central America sinks deeper into the abyss.

See entire series »

Most Read

Guyana May be Placed on Money Laundering Blacklist Amid Rise in Organized Crime

Guyana May be Placed on Money Laundering Blacklist Amid Rise in Organized Crime

Guyana is at risk of being placed on an international money laundering black list after the government failed to pass relevant legislation, even as organized crime in this remote South American nation is on the...

Read more

HSBC, Shell Implicated in Argentina Money Laundering Scandal

HSBC, Shell Implicated in Argentina Money Laundering Scandal

Authorities in Argentina have warned of possible money laundering by HSBC bank in a case involving Anglo-Dutch oil and gas company Shell -- the latest in a long line of accusations of the bank's involvement in...

Read more

Are Venezuela Police 'Intelligent Patrols' Reducing Crime as Govt Claims?

Are Venezuela Police 'Intelligent Patrols' Reducing Crime as Govt Claims?

Authorities in Venezuela say the country's "Intelligent Patrolling" policing program has led to a nearly 18 percent drop in crime, but under-reporting of crime and the government's politicized use of statistics cast doubt over the...

Read more

IDRC9-01