HomeNewsBriefDrug Gangs Run 80 Neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile
BRIEF

Drug Gangs Run 80 Neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile

CHILE / 31 OCT 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

An investigation by journalism institute CIPER has found that despite Chile's reputation as one of the safest countries in Latin America, 83 neighborhoods in the capital city of Santiago are effectively run by gangs.

According to an investigation by Tabatha Guerra and Juan Pablo Figueroa of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIPER), entire sections of the city lack police presence, a gap which is filled by street gangs with names like "Los Vatos Locos" and "Los Guarenes." Most of these areas have no or very little access to basic services like public transportation, and schools are few and far between. 

Guerra and Figueroa report that an estimated 700,000 of Santiago's nearly 5 million residents live in areas controlled by drug gangs, and the problem is getting worse. Demand for cocaine paste -- a cheaper form of the drug -- smuggled in from Bolivia is on the rise, which has sparked violent disputes over control of street-level dealing in these neighborhoods. These gangs' level of control is so powerful that locals often do not dare report crimes to the authorities for fear of repercussions. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The CIPER journalists' snapshot of urban life in Santiago shows a lesser-known side of Chile, which has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the most secure countries in Latin America, with a relatively effective court system and professional law enforcement. The fact that these drug gangs control entire neighborhoods in much the same style as Central American gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) demonstrates that there are still pockets where the rule of law does not apply in the country.

It also suggests that Chile may need to focus on securing urban areas in the country's interior, as well as securing its northern borders with Peru and Bolivia, the main sources of drug shipments.

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

CHILE / 4 DEC 2020

A record drug bust by Chilean armed forces showed that growing public concern about increased drug trafficking in the country…

CHILE / 28 OCT 2021

Chile has become a convenient exit point for illegal gold from the Amazon, with Dubai emerging as a consistent destination…

BRAZIL / 20 FEB 2021

Drug traffickers engage in a creative game of hide and seek with coast guards and other security forces that board…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…