HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Introduces Pre-Trial Detention for Weapons Charges
BRIEF

Guatemala Introduces Pre-Trial Detention for Weapons Charges

GUATEMALA / 4 SEP 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Anybody caught carrying a gun in Guatemala will go straight to jail following an amendment to the criminal code, though it is questionable to what extent this will positively impact citizen security. 

Guatemala's Congress passed an amendment to Article 264 of the country's Code of Criminal Procedure so that anyone detained on suspicion of major crimes including murder, kidnapping and carrying unregistered guns will automatically go into pre-trial detention. Previously "alternative measures" such as house arrest had been an option where the risk of escape was not deemed great.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez said those arrested for carrying illegal firearms had in the past taken advantage of this judicial lenience, reported Prensa Libre. Officials believe the modification, which will go into effect eight days after publication, will provide judges with an important legal tool and help improve national security.

InSight Crime Analysis

Though governments often like to believe that putting more people in jail improves citizen security, the Latin American experience shows it can do quite the opposite. Prisons throughout the region are known strongholds for gangs, and the overcrowding of jails, in part due to lengthy pre-trial detention periods, facilitates the consolidation of gang power and prevents prisoner rehabilitation. Jails are breeding grounds for crime, with extortion rackets and drugs and weapon trafficking rings run by inmates working with associates outside the prison walls. 

SEE ALSO: A Look Inside El Salvador's Prison Nightmare

The measure will also not address related issues such as access to arms -- according to estimates from one Guatemalan non-profit organization, between 800,000 and 900,000 illegal firearms circulate in the country -- and as standalone legislation is unlikely to have a serious impact on gun crime.

It is also unlikely to act as a deterrent for the organized crime groups that are behind much of the violence -- Guatemala is not only home to street gangs with prison connections, but also to international criminal groups such as the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, for whom such legislation is not even a consideration.

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

GUATEMALA / 28 DEC 2010

It's appropriate that Alta Verapaz, the province where the Guatemalan government has decided to start its fight against organized crime,…

CIACS / 17 JUL 2018

Concern has been mounting since Guatemala’s new attorney general took office two months ago.

GUATEMALA / 16 SEP 2013

Since the rise and subsequent fall of the Zetas, Guatemala's underworld has experienced a tremendous upheaval. The turmoil has left…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…