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.

Compartir icon icon icon

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

EL SALVADOR / 3 OCT 2011

Some 740,000 people are killed by firearms in Latin America each year, most of them outside combat zones, according to…

GUATEMALA / 19 MAR 2018

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales' announced reduction of the role of the military in citizen security matters looks like a brazen…

EL SALVADOR / 21 FEB 2019

It is straight to business for El Salvador’s president-elect Nayib Bukele as he faces unparalleled expectations when it comes to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…