Guatemala News

Report Recommends Less Repressive Approach to Gang Problem in CentAm

Report Recommends Less Repressive Approach to Gang Problem in CentAm

A new report by a leading watchdog and policy group says that Central America's Northern Triangle governments should find a middle ground that balances the need for engaging with the region's violent street gangs, while still maintaining the rule of law and the governments' legitimacy.

Guatemala Profile

Guatemala

Guatemala

Guatemala's criminal organizations are among the most sophisticated and dangerous in Central America. Some of them have been in operation for decades. They include former members of the military, intelligence agencies and active members of the police. Transporting illegal drugs north comprises the bulk of their activity, but organized crime in Guatemala is also involved in marijuana and poppy cultivation, as well as human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, arms smuggling, adoption rings, eco trafficking and other illegal enterprises. They often work with groups from Mexico, Colombia and other Central American nations and they have the potential to expand and command other Central American nations' underworlds.

More Guatemala News

  • Report Recommends Less Repressive Approach to Gang Problem in CentAm

    Gang violence continues to plague Central America

    A new report by a leading watchdog and policy group says that Central America's Northern Triangle governments should find a middle ground that balances the need for engaging with the region's violent street gangs, while still maintaining the rule of law and the governments' legitimacy.

  • Arrest of Top MS13 Gang Leader in Guatemala Highlights Cooperation

    Top MS13 leader Pedro Benjamín Rivas Zelaya, alias “El Sniper”

    The arrest in Guatemala of a high-ranking MS13 leader wanted by El Salvador's authorities illustrates how regional cooperation yields results, even while raising questions on how best to tackle the regional migration of the powerful gang members.

  • 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 related to one. There is nothing scientific about olfato, yet it seems as if that is the guiding measure as it relates to determining this crucial question: What is behind the steady stream of homicides in Central America, or in this case, Guatemala?

  • 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 of these forms go into paper files. Others go into computer files. Some of them are summarized and sent to headquarters. Others remain at precinct or even sub-precinct level. As will become evident, much of it is quickly buried amidst a pile of papers that will literally fade with time, or within a computer file, which will most likely be erased or lost by the next person who has that job.

  • Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

    In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla, Zacapa, and Chiquimula. The northern department of Petén, which encompasses nearly a third of the country's land mass, also routinely has some of the highest homicide rates.[1]

  • 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 Guatemala's Top Metal Company Avoided Millions in Taxes

    Corrupt officials of Guatemala’s tax administration were allegedly involved in the scheme

    Guatemala's biggest metallurgic company reportedly set up a complex scheme involving front companies, corrupt officials and fake documentation to evade taxes for years, a blueprint for defrauding the state in a country that has long suffered from criminal conduct by elites.

  • Nearly All Crimes in Guatemala Go Unpunished: CICIG

    CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez

    Only 3 percent of crimes in Guatemala are punished, according to the head of an international anti-corruption body, a statistic that serves as a reminder of the importance of enacting structural reforms in order to improve rule of law in the country.

  • Trump Wall May Reinforce Shift to Maritime Migrant Routes

    Migrants are opting for maritime routes to cross over into Mexico

    Central American undocumented migrants are shifting to maritime transportation, according to a recent report, likely as a result of Mexico's crackdown on land routes, a trend that would likely increase should the US-Mexico border wall be extended.

  • US Again Warns Central America over Attacks on Prosecutors, CICIG

    Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales

    A US senator has warned Guatemala that aid funding could be put in jeopardy if the Central American country's president, Jimmy Morales, insists on calling for the removal of Iván Velásquez, the head of the anti-corruption body CICIG.

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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...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

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...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

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...

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...

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...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

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.