HomeNewsBriefGang Violence and Extortion Make Taxi Driving High Risk in Honduras
BRIEF

Gang Violence and Extortion Make Taxi Driving High Risk in Honduras

EXTORTION / 11 MAR 2014 BY SETH ROBBINS EN

Driving a taxi has become one of the most dangerous professions in Honduras, where the public transport sector is under constant threat from gang extortion and violence.

In the past two years, 153 taxi drivers were murdered and 17 others wounded in violent confrontations, while 32 passengers were also killed, according to Honduras’ National Human Rights Commission (CONADEH).

In some of the most disturbing cases, detailed by El Heraldo, a dozen taxi drivers were kidnapped and then killed, a driver was murdered in front of his children, and another was shot dead by a 15-year-old as he waited to pick up passengers.

According to CONADEH, one of the principal dangers taxi drivers face on a daily basis is extortion by gangs, with other taxi drivers and police also possibly involved. The Associated Press described one case in which a 68-year-old driver was shot and killed by a youth thought to be linked to the Barrio 18 gang, after the driver’s collective went to the police because they were unable to pay the $1,000 extortion fee demanded of them.

InSight Crime Analysis

The problem is not limited to taxi drivers: extortion in the public transport sector is a huge problem in Honduras, particularly in the cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, where criminal groups are estimated to make over $27 million a year through so-called “war taxes.” Extortion is now so bad in Tegucigalpa that various bus routes have been suspended, reported Proceso.

Taxi extortion is a threat throughout the “Northern Triangle” region — Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — leading whole taxi fleets to use unmarked cars and prohibit drivers from entering certain neighborhoods. Salvadoran newspaper El Diario de Hoy recently published a list of ten places in the greater San Salvador area where taxi drivers refuse to go.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extortion

Both El Salvador and Honduras are attempting to address bus extortion, with Salvadoran authorities equipping some new vehicles with security features such as global-positioning systems and panic buttons, and using card readers in place of cash.

However, there has been little in the way of solutions regarding taxis, whose drivers often complain that police are non-existent in gang-controlled areas, and who fear going to potentially corrupt authorities to report the crime. The result is an impunity rate of around 95 percent for murders of taxi drivers in 2012 and 2013, according to CONADEH.

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

EL SALVADOR / 16 MAY 2017

A new report by an international humanitarian organization provides fresh statistics on the dangers that migrants from Central America's Northern…

BARRIO 18 / 10 DEC 2015

The number of asylum seekers from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in the United States shot up 410 percent between…

HONDURAS / 16 FEB 2012

More than half those locked up in a Honduras prison where a fire killed hundreds of inmates had not been…

Institutional Content

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. …