HomeNewsBriefBolivia Maps Gang Presence
BRIEF

Bolivia Maps Gang Presence

BOLIVIA / 12 APR 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Security officials in Bolivia have created a database of where the country's gangs operate as part of a broader push to reduce crime and violence in the Andean nation.

On April 11, Interior Minister Carlos Romero announced at the Sixth Summit on Citizen Security in La Paz that the police had mapped the locations of the country's gangs, reported La Razón. According to the police, 269 gangs are active in Bolivia, with the highest concentration in the cities of Santa Cruz, La Paz and Cochabamba. (See InSight Crime map below)

Santa Cruz is home to 60 gangs and nearly 2,500 gang members, while in La Paz there are 48 gangs totaling 1,645 members. In Cochabamba, the police have identified 44 gangs that count 1,476 members between them. The police report shows there are 7,731 active gang members nationwide.

Romero said the mapping was done in order to help authorities decide where to redistribute police forces and install security cameras. 

During the summit President Evo Morales announced $105 million would be earmarked for modernizing the country's police force so that it could better combat crime. 

Also on April 11, Romero presented to Bolivia's Legislative Assembly a bill to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 14, reported La Razón. Romero said the bill is intended to reduce violence among youths involved in gang activity. 

boliviagangs

InSight Crime Analysis

Mapping where gangs operate and modernizing the police force are commonsense security measures, but there is no guarantee these steps will lead to a significant reduction in crime rates. This is because it's not clear to what extent gangs are responsible for crime and violence in the first place, and Bolivia already boasts much lower homicide levels than many other countries in Latin America.

The bigger security threat in Bolivia is believed to be the growth of the transnational drug trade, and the presence of foreign criminal groups that are looking to take advantage of the Andean nation's strategic position as both drug producer and transshipment point. The government's new measures may increase pressure on the low-level criminal gangs, but it appears they will leave the more organized criminal structures largely untouched. 

SEE ALSO: Evo's Challenge: Bolivia the Drug Hub

As for the proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility, it create the risk of incentivizing gangs to enlist even younger recruits. Children would also be exposed to the criminal justice system at a younger age, burdening them with a social stigma and increasing their odds of engaging in future delinquency. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HOMICIDES / 11 OCT 2016

Many deaths are unavoidable. Natural disasters and incurable illnesses can claim lives suddenly, without warning. But there is one untimely death that…

EL SALVADOR / 9 MAR 2016

An El Salvador official has suggested criminalizing the payment of extortion fees by businesses, touching off a debate that cuts…

ARGENTINA / 15 JAN 2020

Welcome to InSight Crime's Criminal GameChangers 2019, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…