Hot Spots in Latin America, Part 4.
Following up on our articles about the challenging environment in Latin American countries, we
have a brief description of three Central American countries that have been perceived as the most
violent in the continent for several years now.
Guatemala’s criminal organizations are among the most sophisticated and dangerous in Central America.
Some of them have been in operation for decades. They include former members of the military, intelligence agencies active members of the police, as well as public officials and drug traffickers. In recent years, these networks have fractured after their leaders were captured.
Transporting illegal drugs north comprises the bulk of their activity, but organized crime in Guatemala is also involved in marijuana, poppy, and coca cultivation, as well as human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, arms smuggling, adoption rings, environmental crimes and other illegal enterprises. They often work with groups from Mexico, Colombia, and other Central American nations. They have shown the ability to expand and command other criminal economies in neighboring countries.
Honduras is one of the most important drug trafficking operation centers between South America and Mexico. With all of its branches of government and its armed forces plagued by corruption, Honduras has evolved into a transit nation in which criminal groups, protected by the political system, have developed the capacity to produce cocaine hydrochloride in local laboratories.
Since the end of the last decade, political protection has allowed the traditional drug trafficking groups to flourish. Testimony provided by drug traffickers and Honduran politicians on trial in the United States have revealed the deep-seated connection between organized crime and the governing National Party.
El Salvador is a relatively small but growing player in the drug trafficking business. It serves as a drug receiving and storage point along the Pacific Coast, and a bridge via the Pan-American Highway, the Fonseca Gulf and roads from Honduras that cut through relatively unpopulated areas. Gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 commonly engage in extortion, kidnapping and domestic drug distribution. Accompanying and exacerbating the country’s general insecurity is a weak judicial system that promotes impunity.
Corruption and illegal drug trafficking are the two main factors that fuel violence and crime all over Latin America. Poverty and lack of opportunities sum up to the previous to make a picture of the region that is filled with obstacles for companies and individuals that take a look at the region either for business or leisure.
*With information from insightcrime.org