News Analysis

Coca Plantation 'Experiment' in Honduras Raises Eyebrows

Coca Plantation 'Experiment' in Honduras Raises Eyebrows

Authorities have located coca plantations in Honduras, a sign that the Central American nation could be evolving from its traditional role as a transportation corridor to one that is also a drug producer.

News Briefs

Can Peru's Ambitious Eradication Goal Reduce Coca Crops?

Can Peru's Ambitious Eradication Goal Reduce Coca Crops?

The government of Peru hopes to halve the amount of coca grown in the country by 2021, an ambitious plan...

Peru Authorities Struggle to Combat Illegal Mining as Deforestation Continues

Peru Authorities Struggle to Combat Illegal Mining as Deforestation Continues

Peru has lost hundreds of hectares of rainforests to illegal mining in recent months, a reminder of the environmental damage...

Brazil Police Mount Another Futile Crackdown on São Paulo 'Crackland'

Brazil Police Mount Another Futile Crackdown on São Paulo 'Crackland'

A police operation against an open-air drug market in São Paulo, Brazil has simply displaced the problem, as buyers and...

Arrest of Drug Flight 'Emperor' Shows Venezuela's Role as Departure Point

Arrest of Drug Flight 'Emperor' Shows Venezuela's Role as Departure Point

Colombian authorities have captured an individual suspected of shipping drugs from Venezuela using modified airplanes, a reminder of the latter...

Illegal Gold Mining in Costa Rica Suggests Diversifying Criminal Landscape

Illegal Gold Mining in Costa Rica Suggests Diversifying Criminal Landscape

Recent reports suggest illegal gold mining and the associated trafficking of mercury are increasing in Costa Rica, providing evidence that...

Crime Groups Control 65 Percent of State Prisons in Mexico: Report

Crime Groups Control 65 Percent of State Prisons in Mexico: Report

Organized crime groups control 65 percent of state prisons in Mexico, according to a government report about prison conditions in...

Investigations

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The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...