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

BRAZIL / 24 FEB 2022

Law enforcement in Latin America and Europe have disrupted a cocaine smuggling network that reached from Bolivia to Dubai, resulting…

COCAINE / 3 AUG 2021

An anti-narcotics operation in western Guatemala has shed further light on how families involved in local politics can play a…

ELITES AND CRIME / 9 MAR 2021

The naming of judges to Guatemala's high courts has turned into an escalating fight between political elites seeking to stack…

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,…