HomeNewsBriefJust One Percent of Guatemala Private Security Guards Operate Legally
BRIEF

Just One Percent of Guatemala Private Security Guards Operate Legally

GUATEMALA / 14 JUL 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

The Guatemala government said that 99 percent of the country's private security guards are working illegally,as efforts to regulate the booming private security sector -- which has been accused of everything from extrajudicial killings to criminal ties -- falls flat.

Only 400 of Guatemala's 48,240 security agents have completed the training and certification required under the terms of a 2010 law regulating private security services (pdf), according to the Private Security Services Office (DIGESSP) of the Ministry of Interior, reported Prensa Libre (see their graphics below).

Of the 141 security companies registered before the law, 139 have yet to comply with the regulations, even though the deadline to do so passed in 2012. However, the head of the DIGESSP, Ana Patricia Monge, told La Horathat the certification process -- which requires a training process of 10 to 30 days -- only began this year.

In addition to registered security agents, there are an estimated further 30,000 to 40,000 private guards working clandestinely or for illegal security firms, according to a report accessed by Prensa Libre.

The 2010 law allows for prison sentences of six to 12 years for those who provide or knowingly hire uncertified security services.

DIGESSO private security GUAT

InSight Crime Analysis

Sky high violence levels, and a lack of trust in corrupt and under-resourced public security institutions has led to a booming private security sector in Guatemala and its Northern Triangle neighbors Honduras and El Salvador. In 2012, an AFP report found that Guatemala had four private agents for every police officer.

The privatization of security has thrown up an array of its own security concerns. In Guatemala, private security firms have been accused of extrajudicial killings, collaborating with military personnel in Illegal Clandestine Security Apparatuses (CIACS) -- which have strong ties to drug trafficking -- and of being one of the country's main purchasers of illegally trafficked arms.

Elsewhere in the region, private security firms even allegedly serve as smokescreens for criminal groups to carry out their activities.

With no sign of drastic improvements in the security situation in the Northern Triangle, private security firms are likely to remain a long term feature of public life, underscoring the importance of the type of comprehensive regulation attempted by Guatemala. 

However, Guatemala's torpid progress demonstrates how legislation alone is not enough, and must be backed by both the resources to make regulation practical and the enforcement to make non-compliance a serious issue. If not, there is a danger that private security could become part of the problem.

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 / 1 SEP 2011

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala classified the political party UCN's affiliation as “narco," according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

EL SALVADOR / 15 FEB 2021

Hopes are high in the Northern Triangle, that the arrival of Joseph Biden and his administration to the White House…

GUATEMALA / 18 MAY 2017

A news organization in Guatemala discovered a clandestine drug trafficking airstrip located in the vicinity of a military post and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…