HomeNewsBriefMotorcycle Killings: Criminal Modus Operandi in LatAm
BRIEF

Motorcycle Killings: Criminal Modus Operandi in LatAm

ECUADOR / 9 AUG 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Over 1,500 Guatemalans have reportedly been killed by motorcycle assassins since 2012, highlighting the spread across Latin America of a murder tactic popularized during the era of Colombia's Pablo Escobar and his Medellin Cartel.

According to the non-governmental organization Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM), 1,537 Guatemalans have been killed in the past three and a half year by motorcycle-born assassins, reported elPeriodico. An additional 699 individuals have reportedly suffered injuries as a result of these attacks.

According to GAM, the number of motorcycle killings in Guatemala is on the rise. The number of registered deaths increased by over 50 percent between 2012 and 2014, from 335 to 527, respectively.

To combat this crime, former President Alvaro Colom prohibited a second passenger from riding on the back of a motorcycle in 2009. However, current President Otto Perez Molina lifted this ban in 2013.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profile

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by Ecuador's Judicial Police found that suspects on motorcycles in the city of Guayaquil have carried out an average of nine crimes per day this year. (See El Universo's graph below) The 1,876 crimes committed by individuals riding motorcycles represent almost 15 percent of the total number of criminal acts reported to authorities during the first seven months of 2015.

15-08-07-Ecuador-Moto-Crimes

InSight Crime Analysis

The use of motorcycles as a vehicle for assassination dates back to the 1980s, when Pablo Escobar ran the powerful Medellin Cartel in Colombia. On orders from Escobar, motorcycle assassins killed Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, setting off a war between the cartel and the state over the issue of extradition. The cartel emerged victorious in this war, and Escobar's use of motorcycle assassins catapulted him to international notoriety. 

Since that time, the use of motorcycle assassins has spread throughout Latin America. The tactic has become common in countries with a strong gang presence such as Honduras and Guatemala, but has also been seen in more peaceful nations like Uruguay.

Despite the prevalence of motorcycle assassins, many urban dwellers in Latin America oppose a two-passenger ban because they rely on motorcycles for transportation. Perez Molina's reversal of the two-passenger prohibition in 2013 attests to the unpopularity of this law, which often stalls efforts to cut down on motorcycle crimes. Medellin has restricted men from riding on the back of motorcycles for years, but a Colombian court recently overturned the ban. 

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

BARRIO 18 / 29 JAN 2021

It was one of Alejandro Giammattei’s most emphatic promises. One year later, the Interior Ministry supported his strategy to reduce…

COLOMBIA / 18 APR 2013

Colombian and Ecuadorean authorities captured one of Ecuador's most wanted criminals and an alleged ally of the Sinaloa Cartel in…

GUATEMALA / 30 MAY 2011

A brother of Guatemalan kingpin Jorge Mario Paredes Cordoba, alias "El Gordo," was gunned down along with two associates.

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.