The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
Honduras is seeing the fallout from Tuesday’s grisly massacre inside a shoe factory, when three perpetrators used AK-47s to slaughter 17 people.
El Salvador's hard-line law against gang activity officially took effect on Sunday, although the Attorney General's Office told La Prensa Grafica the legislation is not yet being enforced due to technicalities.
The United Nations and U.S. Southern Command estimate there are approximately 70,000 gang members, or so-called maras, most of them concentrated in the Northern Triangle: 36,000 in Honduras, 10,500 in El Salvador and 14,000 in Guatemala. Most of these are concentrated in two gangs: the Mara Salvatrucha-13 (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (18). The gangs have a grave impact on the security situation in the region. Maras extort, kidnap, and murder local rivals, neighbors and security personnel. Their grip on many communities has crippled them and forced governments to reassess their security strategies. Their rise has also corresponded to higher murder rates. The Northern Triangle currently ranks as the most dangerous place in the world, according to the United Nations.·
From the introduction of the article by John P. Sullivan and Samuel Logan, published in 'The Counter Terrorist,' a magazine produced by the organization Security Solutions International.
Are the brutal mara gangs in Central America allying themselves with the Mexican drug cartels, and what might this mean for organized crime in the region?
This month’s attack on the head of the Honduran prison system has raised the important question: Does the government have any control over its penitentiaries?
El Salvador's infamous street gangs, including the Mara Salvatruchas (MS-13), are getting more deeply involved in drug trafficking and are poised to become major players in transnational crime, indicates a new media report. This marks a further step in the group's evolution from a loose-knit association of small-time street gangs to become a much more formidable and organized force.
Much of the headlines in the region about organized crime are focused on the chase, capture, and sometimes death of infamous criminal leaders. But there are many more subtle battles in motion, which have a far greater impact on every day life in these countries than the fight between the mega-cartels and their rivals, or the government’s efforts to decapitate the most well-known drug traffickers.
Take, for example, the adventure it must be to ride a public bus in Guatemala. Since 2007, over 500 bus drivers have been killed in violent incidents in Guatemala making driving a bus in that Central American nation arguably the most dangerous profession on the planet. The violence is not limited to the drivers. In 2010, while 155 bus drivers were killed, another 54 bus assistants (so-called ‘brochas’), 71 passengers and 14 presumed criminals were also murdered.
A television cameraman was shot to death on a bus as he rode to work in El Salvador, the Associated Press reported. Three suspected gang members boarded the bus and killed Alfredo Hurtado (in photo), a police report quoted by the AP said. The motives for the killing were not clear. Gangs have killed and threatened journalists in El Salvador in the past, most notably Christian Poveda, a French documentary maker who was killed in 2009 after showing his finished work about the gangs to their leaders.