New government data shows that just three municipalities account for over 40 percent of all murders in Honduras, reflecting the regional imbalances in homicide rates across the country.
The cities of Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba registered over 1,100 murders during the first six months of 2015, according to homicide figures compiled by Honduras' Police Statistic System (SEPOL). This means these three jurisdictions -- which make up just 27 percent of the Honduran population -- accounted for more than 40 percent of all the country's homicides, reported El Heraldo.
Notably, Tegucigalpa overtook San Pedro Sula in total murders for the first time, according to El Heraldo. One Mexican non-governmental organization (NGO) has ranked San Pedro Sula as the world's most violent city for the last four consecutive years.
In contrast to the country's most violent cities, SEPOL's figures indicate that a sizable number of municipalities were left entirely unaffected by violence. Of Honduras' 298 municipalities, 57 reported zero murders.
InSight Crime Analysis
The municipal homicide data highlights the close links between violence and gang activity in Honduras. Despite being one of the world's most violent countries, homicides are concentrated in certain zones, as opposed to being spread out evenly across Honduras. The country's two murder hotspots (San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa) are also where the majority of bloody turf wars between rival gangs take place.
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While Honduras' homicide rate remains unacceptably high, it has fallen significantly so far this year, according to government figures. This decline may be tied to well-organized gangs such as the MS13 consolidating control over their territory as smaller criminal groups are broken up by authorities. According to police, one such gang, the Chirizos -- who have been known to battle larger gangs for extortion profits -- have been almost totally dismantled.
However, there is also suspicion Honduras' official homicide statistics do not reflect the reality on the ground. The Violence Observatory at Honduras? National Autonomous University (UNAH) recently questioned the government's latest homicide figures, saying at least 30 murders were not included in the SEPOL data.