Massacres are on the rise in Honduras

Honduras has experienced more massacres so far in 2015 than in all of last year, suggesting violence related to organized crime remains rampant despite a significant drop in the country's murder rate. 

The Violence Observatory at Honduras’ National Autonomous University (UNAH) has registered 95 massacres in 2015, resulting in 352 deaths, according to the AFP. A massacre is defined as any homicide case in which three or more victims were killed.

Migdonia Ayestas, director of the Violence Observatory, told AFP that the rise in massacres is due to confrontations between street gangs and drug trafficking groups, inter-gang battles for control of extortion revenues, personal clashes and land disputes. 

The increasing number of massacres runs contrary to an overall decrease in homicides. Honduras' national homicide rate fell from over 90 per 100,000 residents in 2011 -- the highest in the world at the time -- to 66 per 100,000 in 2014. Ayestas projects that the country's homicide rate will continue to drop in 2015, to 62 per 100,000 by the end of the year.  

InSight Crime Analysis

The simultaneous rise in massacres and drop in homicides suggests organized crime is responsible for an increasing portion of the murders being committed in Honduras. As Ayestas noted, multiple homicide cases are closely associated with drug trafficking and gang related violence. To highlight just one example, authorities say a recent massacre that left seven people dead was the result of gangs fighting over drug sales in Honduras' Central District. 

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Shifts in Honduras' criminal dynamics support this hypothesis. The underworld is in turmoil, due to the dismantling of several powerful narco-clans that had controlled large swaths of drug trafficking routes in Honduras. This power vacuum may be causing an increase in drug violence as new criminal groups try to wrest control from what remains of the older organizations. Spasms of violence resulting from underworld upheaval have previously been seen in various other parts of Latin America, such as Guatemala and Mexico

Nevertheless, obtaining reliable and accurate crime statistics from Honduras is a near impossible task, and without more concrete data it is difficult to draw too many conclusions as to why the country's homicide patterns are changing. This is compounded by Honduras' incredibly low conviction rate for homicides, which means the circumstances under which most murders occur remain shrouded in mystery.  

Investigations

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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

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...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.