HomeNewsBriefThe Crime Wave on Nicaragua's Remote Caribbean Coast
BRIEF

The Crime Wave on Nicaragua's Remote Caribbean Coast

NICARAGUA / 6 FEB 2013 BY HANNAH STONE EN

A report from a Nicaraguan think-tank analyzing crime and violence in one of the semi-autonomous zones on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast highlights the influence of the drug trade in the region, which helped bring about the country's highest incidence of crime in 2011.

The Nicaragua-based Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policy (IEEPP) released the report analyzing crime rates in the municipality of Bilwi, the main city of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), one of two semi-autonomous, mostly indigenous areas on the coast.

The RAAN as a whole had a murder rate of 18 per 100,000 in 2011, far below that of the neighboring South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS), with 42.7. The study finds that the high rate in the RAAS was due in large part to the presence of local organized criminal groups -- the RAAN also had organized crime, but most killing were due to personal disputes, rather than being carried out by hitmen. However, the IEEPP points out that killings in the RAAN were often driven by drugs, consumption of which has been rising due to international trafficking through the region.

InSight Crime Analysis

Nicaragua's Caribbean coast has become an increasingly important route for cocaine being transported to the United States. An InSight Crime investigation last year highlighted the growth of crime and violence in the city of Bluefields, the capital of the RAAS, which is an emerging regional hub for the cocaine trade.

The IEEPP report found that Bilwi’s location on the main Caribbean drug route has made it an “obligatory step” for drug traffickers, who take advantage of its remoteness, and the network of rivers along the coastline. Other factors driving violence there are the predominantly young and urban population, high unemployment, and the existence of gangs and drug consumption.

The IEEPP report says that there has been more risk of sexual violence since drug traffickers have arrived, citing reports of cases of drug traffickers "purchasing" girls from indigenous communities for sums of up to $200.

The report says that street gangs, known as “pandillas” are responsible for some of the violence in the RAAN, although the study notes that it is hard to say how much, as this is not recorded in official figures. Gangs were, however, identified as the region's biggest security threat in a December 2011 survey by IIEEPP, and there are thought to be 17 pandillas active in Bilwi.

Local people told the IEEPP that the gangs get guns from traffickers, and carry out operations for them. The gangs also produce their own, home-made weapons.

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.

Tags

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 15 JUL 2021

In the process of expanding their influence, criminal groups often develop close ties with elites in an effort to gain…

COLOMBIA / 29 MAR 2022

A record cocaine seizure off the coast of Colombia’s San Andres is the latest in a string of million-dollar drug…

COCAINE / 15 JUL 2021

The murder of a prominent folk singer in Guatemala thrust a Nicaraguan nightclub owner into the spotlight and revealed an…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…