HomeNewsBriefUS Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control: Responding to Violence in Central America
BRIEF

US Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control: Responding to Violence in Central America

BELIZE / 28 SEP 2011 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

This report outlines a series of actions by the U.S. government in order to face violence in Central America. Mexican drug trafficking organizations, local drug traffickers, transnational youth gangs, and other illegal criminal networks are the main focus. As the report notes, the work is the result of staff visits to Guatemala and Honduras, briefings, interviews, and a review of documents from both government and non-government subject matter experts.

An excerpt of the Executive Summary:

Violence in Central America – particularly in the northern triangle countriesof Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – has grown out of control. In Honduras, there were 77 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. El Salvador and Guatemala were not far behind with 66 and 50 murders per 100,000 people. As apoint of comparison, just to the north in Mexico, there were 18 murders per 100,000 people in 2010.(1) While reports of drug-related violence in Mexico continue to be front and center in the press, Central America does not receive adequate attention.

Like Mexico, Central America’s location between the world’s largest producers of illicit drugs in South America and the world’s largest drug consuming nation in the United States makes it particularly vulnerable to drug traffickers. As Mexican President Felipe Calderón has cracked down on drug trafficking organizations in his country, these groups have increased their presence in Central America. Mexican drug trafficking organizations – particularly the Zetas and the Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels – have moved into Central America because it is a“business friendly” environment with weak governance and virtual freedom from prosecution. In fact, General Douglas Fraser, the Commander of U.S. Southern Command, stated at a March 30, 2011 Department of Defense news conference that “the northern triangle of Central America – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras– has become probably the deadliest zone in the world outside of …active warzones in Iraq and Afghanistan and others around the world.”(2)

Unfortunately, violence in Central America is not only carried out by drugtrafficking organizations. Transnational youth gang members in Central America –numbering around 70,000 – are particularly active in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Other illegal criminal networks – including mafia-like groups – are active throughout Central America and are sometimes linked closely to elites, including current and former military and government officials.

(1) Homicide rates for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are drawn from U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Regional Gang Initiative: Progress Status Report – CY2010, February 8, 2011. Data for Mexico is from Mexico’s National System of Public Security.

(2) News Transcript, U.S. Dep’t of Defense, DOD News Briefing with Gen. Fraser from the Pentagon on U.S. Southern Command Operations (March 30, 2011) available at https://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4804 (last visted 9/8/2011).

For the full report in pdf click here.

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

CACHIROS / 31 MAR 2021

A judge in the United States sentenced the brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández to life in prison for…

ARGENTINA / 5 JUL 2022

Why did drug trafficking enjoy such a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic…

BARRIO 18 / 6 DEC 2022

The escalation of El Salvador's gang crackdown in the city of Soyapango has raised severe questions as to whether gang…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…