HomeNewsBriefEscuintla: Guatemala’s New Murder Capital
BRIEF

Escuintla: Guatemala’s New Murder Capital

GUATEMALA / 18 NOV 2013 BY NATALIE SOUTHWICK EN

The coastal province of Escuintla has become Guatemala's most violent, as criminal groups battle for control over this strategic territory, which includes an important port, access to the capital and an infamous prison.

Escuintla, a southern province on the Pacific coast, had 565 homicides recorded as of the end of October, giving it a homicide rate of 77 per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest in the country, reported Prensa Libre. According to statistics collected by the National Institute for Forensic Sciences (INACIF), the province's 2013 homicide total has already passed the 2012 total of 553. If violence continues at the current rate, Escuintla is on track to end the year with a homicide rate of 93 per 100,000 residents. Overall Guatemala's homicide rate was 34 per 100,000 people in 2012.

According to Escuintla's chief investigator, Jorge Cuja, homicides and extortion are the department's two most commonly reported crimes. The province currently has 17 investigators and 1,027 police officers serving a population of more than 731,300 inhabitants. (See breakdown in Prensa Libre's graphic below)

Prensa Libre

(Courtesy of Prensa Libre)

InSight Crime Analysis

The rise in homicides in Escuintla reflects the overall increase in homicides across Guatemala in 2013. What's more, Escuintla has historically been one of the country's most violent provinces, and the uptick in violent crime highlights its importance among Guatemala's fragmented organized crime structures.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

Escuintla's location, with ports on the Pacific coast and proximity to the capital of Guatemala City, as well as its pre-existing infrastructure as a production and export center responsible for over 40 percent of the country's GDP, makes the province an ideal base for trafficking groups. Both the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel have used Escuintla as a transit point for drugs moving north into Mexico.

In addition to the presence of transnational groups, the province has its own homegrown criminal organizations, including the so-called Sarceño organization and the Mara Salvatrucha gang. Escuintla is home to the infamous "El Infiernito" maximum-security prison, from which inmates have directed extortion rings targeting hotels in El Salvador and even ordered the assassination of the prison director in July 2012. Despite ongoing government pledges to improve security in the province, understaffed police have struggled to combat the powerful groups operating there.

Since the fall of the Zetas in Guatemala, the province has been the site of infighting between different groups vying for control of the valuable Pacific territory and trafficking routes.

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

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

The flow of cocaine to Europe may have suffered along with most licit businesses due to COVID-19.

EL SALVADOR / 30 DEC 2021

The United States, under the Biden administration, was supposed to help curb corruption, but for corrupt officials in Central America,…

ARGENTINA / 7 MAR 2022

Paraguay has launched the biggest operation against cocaine trafficking and money laundering in its history, unleashing a scandal that has…

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…