HomeNewsBriefCommon Criminals Posing as Maras Driving Honduras Extortion
BRIEF

Common Criminals Posing as Maras Driving Honduras Extortion

EXTORTION / 21 OCT 2013 BY DANIELA CASTRO EN

Seven out of ten extortion cases in Honduras are carried out by common criminals pretending to be from gangs, according to the authorities, showing how the sense of insecurity created by the proliferation of corruption and organized crime itself fuels further criminality.

Honduras’ National Anti-extortion Force (FNA) said extortion in the country is carried out by three main groups: the street gangs known as “maras,” corrupt police, and extortion rings that pose as maras to scare their victims into paying. Of these, the extortion rings of common criminals account for approximately 70 percent of cases, reported La Prensa.

The rings rarely know their victims, but rely on instilling fear by invoking the names of maras such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, or by using personal details gleaned from sources such as social media networks and telephone directories.

The crime is most commonly carried out by phone, via internet, or through personal visits or notes sent to companies to demand money, according to the FNA. Those most affected are residents in poor areas, transport companies and small and medium businesses.

.honex

InSight Crime Analysis

According to some estimates, the maras earn some $59 million a year from extortion. As highlighted by the FNA, corrupt factions of the police are also widely involved. However, if the FNA figures are accurate, then the principal driver of extortion in Honduras is not the criminal and corrupt organizations widely blamed for the country’s security crisis, but enterprising criminals capitalizing on the sense of fear and insecurity these organizations have created. 

Although extortion is nothing new in Honduras, it has been evolving — demonstrated not only by the proliferation of specialist extortion networks but also by changing methods, such as the growing use of the internet. In early July, Proceso Digital highlighted the use of social networks to carry out extortion. The Internet can be used to provide offenders with important information about their victims, with many people leaving personal details or upcoming plans open for public viewing on social networking sites such as Facebook. 

The addition in March of the FNA to the existing Anti-extortion Unit within the National Special Investigation Services (DNSEI) underscores the magnitude of the problem, and how security forces have so far struggled to make any sort of impact in tackling extortion.

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

HONDURAS / 26 MAR 2015

The US recently helped install solar panels in naval stations in Honduras and Nicaragua, an example of the kind of…

EXTORTION / 17 JAN 2014

Extortion by criminal groups is now an accepted cost of doing business for small businesses and construction companies in Peru,…

BRAZIL / 11 NOV 2014

A new report by a citizen security body in Brazil says that police have killed more than 11,000 civilians in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

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. …