HomeNewsBriefCuban Gang Profits From Sex Trade: Report
BRIEF

Cuban Gang Profits From Sex Trade: Report

CUBA / 29 OCT 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A report on street gangs in Cuba paints a picture of their limited but active presence in capital city Havana and their involvement in the island nation's thriving prostitution industry.

In a rare glimpse into Cuban organized crime, Miami-based news organization CubaNet published a feature story looking at gangs in Cuba's capital, reporting that one gang charges male prostitutes a fee in exchange for operating in their territory. The gang, "Blood for Pain" (Sangre por Dolor), is reportedly one of the largest in Havana, and is active particularly in sectors of the city where there are high rates of male prostitution. According to the article, the gang harasses and threatens prostitutes who do not pay the fee.

Street gangs reportedly operate in other parts of the city as well, earning cash by committing robberies and homicides, according to CubaNet.

Immigrants from rural Cuba to Havana -- which, under Cuban law, makes them "illegal" -- may end up working for street gangs because they have no other way to earn income, the news organization reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the article relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and only quotes three sources, it is nevertheless a rare look at street gang activity in the island nation. Given the Cuban government's strict control over the media -- in 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Cuba as the ninth most censored country in the world -- it is immensely difficult to find reporting about crime there.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Cuba

Gangs have likely resorted to illicit activities like taxing prostitution as a source of income due partly to Cuba's zero-tolerance policy on drugs.

Additionally, Cuba, once known as the "Brothel of the Caribbean," reportedly has the most active sex tourism trade in the Americas, largely due to the greater economic opportunities that prostitution provides when compared to other industries. According to government figures, Cubans earn an average of just $22 per month -- less than half ($50) of what one male prostitute interviewed by CubaNet reportedly made in a single night. As a result, it is natural that local gangs would monopolize this sector of the country's thriving black market.

Cuba's gangs bear little comparison to their much larger and more sophisticated counterparts in Central America. Street gangs, or maras, like Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) have evolved into transnational actors and are key drivers in the epidemic of violence of the "Northern Triangle" region (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador).

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

ELN / 31 DEC 2018

A new report from a Venezuela non-governmental organization working on migration issues shows that Colombia's criminal groups have been recruiting…

COLOMBIA / 16 MAY 2014

The criminal butchers who have earned the port of Buenaventura a macabre reputation as the torture house of Colombia's drug…

COLOMBIA / 4 FEB 2020

A recent court decision recognizing acts of sexual violence that took place within the FARC during the armed conflict in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.