HomeNewsBriefWomen in Guatemala Jails Doubled In 8 Years
BRIEF

Women in Guatemala Jails Doubled In 8 Years

GENDER AND CRIME / 19 MAR 2013 BY MICHAEL TATONE EN

Guatemala’s female prison population has more than doubled in the last eight years according to official statistics, highlighting the increased role women are playing in organized criminal activity in this Central American nation.

There are now 1,315 women in Guatemala’s jails, compared to just 595 female prisoners in January 2005, according to data from the Sistema Penitenciario (SP), reports  El Periodico - an increase of 121 per cent. The number of women in jail has seen sharp increases in recent years, rising 30 percent from 2010 to 2011, and 26.8 percent from 2012 to 2013.

According to the SP spokesman, the biggest increase in female crime participation has been in extortion, kidnapping and theft. Women are also playing more important roles in criminal hierarchies acting as assassins and thieves, according to Veronica Godoy, the director of an alliance of non-governmental organizations that monitors public security. However, they rarely hold leadership positions.

InSight Analysis

For many women, according to Godoy, organized crime can become a way of life when facing a lack of economic opportunities. Family or romantic ties, often manipulated by gang members for the purposes of recruitment, also lead to increased female participation.

For the gangs, women, as well as children, provide a low cost labor source that traditionally attracts less attention from police and judicial authorities. A report last year found women were increasingly being used in Guatemalan extortion gangs for recruitment and intelligence gathering. Guatemala’s anti-extortion force estimates that 80 percent of the suspects detained for extortion charges are now women.  

The trend is regional. In Mexico, the number of women working in the drug trade is estimated to have grown by 400 percent between 2007 and 2010. It has been suggested that criminal organizations in the region are relying on family ties to boost their numbers after members are jailed or killed in the violence that has spread throughout the isthmus.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 JUL 2015

Another scandal involving people close to Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina has surfaced, calling attention not just to the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 28 AUG 2018

A longtime powerbroker in Guatemala has withdrawn his plea for asylum in the United States and will instead be deported…

BELIZE / 5 MAR 2015

In its most recent report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) -- responsible for overseeing the implementation of the United…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

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…