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Street Gangs

The notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18) are behind the majority of extortion rackets in the Northern Triangle. The development of...
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Corrupt State Actors

Although gangs dominate the extortion markets in Central America, corrupt state agents will collude with them and even run some of their own extortion...
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Independent Criminal Groups

The variety of extortionists in Central America speaks to the ease with which opportunists can set up their own schemes. Independent actors have taken advantage of...
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Copycats

Through the use of violence, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and 18th Street Gang (Barrio 18)  have become the most feared criminal brands in the Northern Triangle....
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Guatemala’s Small Businesses: A Pot of Gold

In parts of Guatemala City, opening a small business or setting up an informal stall can carry a death sentence. Every week, shopkeepers and business owners pay...
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Extortion of Guatemala’s Red Buses: Where Gang and Elite Criminal Interests Meet

The gangs’ bloody business of extorting transport in Guatemala has provided a pernicious environment and the perfect cover for some  economic and political elite...
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Extortion and Sexual Violence: Women’s Unspoken Suffering

Financial extortion in El Salvador spares neither women nor men. But women simultaneously suffer from a more insidious form of extortion shaped by the threat of...
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Municipalities Fight Back in Guatemala’s Gang-Preyed Upon Neighborhoods

On the outskirts of Guatemala City lie impoverished neighborhoods, home to millions who commute to work in the capital city. These so-called “dorm cities,”...
guatemala city gang presence
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Gang Presence in Guatemala City

Extortion in Guatemala City is rife, and it is mainly carried out by street gangs and copycat groups. Shops, large businesses, and the public transport sector have...