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

CIACS / 20 DEC 2016

A recent report has suggested that Guatemala's incarcerated former president and vice president continue to wield power from behind bars…

ELITES AND CRIME / 24 FEB 2017

A US federal court has indicted the former vice president and the former interior minister of Guatemala on cocaine…

GUATEMALA / 20 JUL 2012

Guatemala’s Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz set out her department’s new strategies for dealing with organized crime, focusing on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…