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

GENDER AND CRIME / 28 MAY 2014

Authorities in Providence, Rhode Island have dismantled four residential brothels this year, shedding light on the receiving end…

GUATEMALA / 1 APR 2013

An official investigation into the workings of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in Guatemala paints a picture of a highly organized,…

EL CHAPO / 22 MAY 2013

Guatemala's authorities arrested an alleged member of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel on May 20, the latest supposed accomplice from the Joaquin…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…