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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...
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Women in Guatemala: The New Faces of Extortion?

A visit to a women’s prison in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, shows the increasing role that women play in extortion rackets. The ubiquity of extortion...
northern triangle map
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Extortion Explainer 1: Evolution of Extortion in the Northern Triangle

The Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are now home to some of the most sophisticated extortion schemes in Latin America. The birth...
monja blanca buses
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Extortion Explainer 2: From a “Cora” to the Rent

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and 18th Street Gang’s (Barrio 18) primary criminal economy is extortion, or what they call rent. In the early 1990s, when the gangs...
el salvador police man picture
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Extortion Explainer 4: Undermining Institutions

Extortion spurs violence in Northern Triangle countries, which consistently have some of the highest murder rates in Latin America. But it is destructive in other...
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Extortion Explainer 5: Responses to Extortion Fall Short

Extortion is a particularly destructive crime because victims often have little recourse. Initial state responses have proven counterproductive, and more recent...
cellphone in hand picture
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Extortion Explainer 3: The Modus Operandi

A cheap phone and a few dollars’ worth of prepaid credit serve as the rudimentary tools of extortionists in Northern Triangle countries. Here are some of the most...
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US Drug Probe Lands Guatemala President in Hot Water

Controversy is swirling in Guatemala after evidence emerged showing that President Jimmy Morales used a helicopter owned by a presidential...