Eduardo Bonomi (left) with Uruguayan police

Robberies are down in Uruguay, while murders remained stable, as the government passed a historic marijuana regulation bill likely to draw increased international attention to the country's criminal landscape.

Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi reported on the crime situation during a December 9 cabinet meeting, the day before the Uruguayan Senate passed legislation that will legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana, reported El Pais. According to the minister, both violent and non-violent robberies decreased in November compared to the same month last year, while homicide numbers stayed the same.

However, Bonomi expressed concern that 40 percent of homicides were the result of what he called "score settling," a term essentially linking them to violence among criminals and gangs, reported La Red 21.

In November 2012, Bonomi reported a rise in "score settling" homicides for that year, which saw a record number of murders.

InSight Crime Analysis

The crime situation in Uruguay is likely to be a focal point for the international community in the near future, as the government has maintained that marijuana regulation will seriously dent the revenues of criminal groups engaged in trafficking the drug, and help lower insecurity and crime.

Aside from public skepticism over these claims, there is a risk the groups involved could move to replace these losses with profits from other criminal activities. Although Uruguay has not historically had the sort of significant organized crime presence that would aggressively seek alternative revenue streams, there are signs the presence of foreign criminals is increasing, and that local groups are working with them and gaining prominence in the country's underworld.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

While Uruguay remains one of the least violent countries in the region, insecurity is rising, illustrated by the country's record number of homicides in 2012. For its part, the Uruguayan government will need to show positive security results with the marijuana legislation if it is to silence critics of the initiative and turn the tide of public opinion, which has been against the legalization move throughout this legislative process.

Investigations

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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

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...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...