The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
Honduras' new government has lauded increased arrests and drug seizures under the new president's hardline security policy, although reports that the country's prisons generate $180 million in illegal annual earnings serve as a reminder of the negative effects filling prisons can have.
Corruption in Guatemala's prisons has created a prison black market where everything from cell phones to prison transfers are for sale, in another sign of the deep rooted institutional weakness rife in the region's prison systems.
On January 4, the capital of Maranhao, Brazil, suffered a wave of coordinated attacks on buses and police stations, ordered by a local prison gang. The death of a 6-year-old girl in the attacks, along with evidence of the execrable conditions within Maranhao's prisons, including a gruesome video of beheaded prisoners, reports of rape of visiting family members, and signs that further inmate violence is imminent, have all drawn international attention.
Ten inmates died and around 40 more were injured during a riot and a fire in a northern Colombia prison, highlighting chronic overcrowding in the country's jails and prompting calls for reform.
In the heart of San Pedro Sula, the most violent city in the world, there is a prison that lives in peace. A 27-year-old thief who decapitated his predecessor governs the prison with the backing of the majority of the inmates, who consider him their benefactor.
Prisons in Latin America have abandoned any notion of rehabilitating inmates, warned the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture, highlighting how penitentiary systems fuel insecurity and criminal groups across the region.
A video showing the decapitated bodies of three prisoners in a jail in northeastern Brazil paints a gruesome picture of the country's out-of-control prisons and draws attention to how crime and violence have been migrating to Brazil's historically safer states.
An intelligence investigation has revealed the pricing structure for goods within El Salvador's jails, which are now not only finishing schools for criminals but sources of income for organized crime as in many parts of Latin America.
Fifty-five inmates escaped from an Ecuador prison by rushing the guards at an undermanned gate, evidence of the rapid overcrowding of Ecuador's under-resourced prison system, as well as alleged official corruption.
The prison population in Ecuador has risen dramatically in the past four years, a phenomenon tied to the overuse of preventive detention, but also likely linked to the country's ever-growing importance as a drug transit nation.