The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
Authorities in Argentina are to create a special police unit following a wave of high-profile express kidnappings -- including the abduction of Argentine soccer star Carlos Tevez's father -- highlighting concern over the growing sophistication of local organized crime.
An NGO in Mexico reported that kidnappings rose 56 percent in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period last year, illustrating the failure of President Enrique Peña Nieto's security policies to tackle this crime.
Venezuela reportedly saw 110 kidnappings in the first six months of 2014, indicating a downward trend in incidences of the crime, but this figure likely says little about the true scale of the problem.
In response to years of steadily rising abductions, Mexico has doubled the minimum sentence for kidnappers, a measure that has seen success in other Latin America countries.
A spate of murders in Guerrero, Mexico appears to be linked to a power struggle between local gangs as criminal group Los Rojos experiences internal chaos, providing one illustration of the volatile situation in this small southwestern state.
A rare communique issued by Paraguay's EPP guerrillas has labeled the country's administration a "narco-government," in an apparent public relations attempt to rebuff the president's aggressive pursuit of the rebel group.
Police in Bolivia have freed two children kidnapped by drug traffickers after their cocaine "mule" mother was arrested in Spain, in an example of a rarely reported but highly common form of extortion used by criminal groups across Latin America.
While Colombia registered a drop in kidnappings in 2013, an uptick in "express" kidnappings remains obscured by the statistics, and reflects a major shift in the country's crime dynamic.
Until recently, abductions in Haiti were rampant and almost always happened the same way: ski-mask-clad kidnappers would surround a house, force entry, ransack the place and leave with a vulnerable victim -- usually a woman, child or elderly person. The family would pay ransom, and if the victim was released alive, law enforcement would call it a success.
Authorities in Bolivia have arrested a group of kidnappers that hacked computers to gain information on victims and demanded exorbitant ransoms, an unusual case in a country not known for kidnapping or cyber crime.