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. 

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

SECURITY POLICY / 5 JUN 2020

The unprecedented murder of three soldiers in Uruguay has again raised the alarm about the seemingly growing brazenness of criminal…

GUATEMALA / 19 MAR 2018

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales' announced reduction of the role of the military in citizen security matters looks like a brazen…

JAMAICA / 19 JUL 2019

In just two months, authorities detained 906 people in Jamaica under states of emergency across the country, but this bid…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…