The Interior Ministry of Guatemala released the results of an investigation into drug trafficking organizations within the country. According to the report, authorities identified over 54 drug trafficking groups operating in Guatemala as of June 2013.
In addition to the drug traffickers, security officials identified 40 cells of the organized crime gang Barrio-18 and 30 cells of Mara Salvatrucha in Guatemala.
(See all drug trafficking statistics here.)
Source: Claire O’Neil McCleskey, “Guatemalan Officials Identify 54 Drug Trafficking Groups,” Insight Crime, June 12, 2013.
A report by NPR in June 2013 stated that up to 20 people were being killed in Honduras each day and that the country has the highest murder rate in the world.
In the city of San Pedro Sula, over 1,200 people were killed in 2012.
Two major causes for the high rate of murders are organized crime gangs and drug trafficking cartels, according to the report.
In San Pedero Sula, the gangs of Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street have been battling over territory. In total, there are about 65,000 gang members in Honduras.
Along with gang warfare, drug trafficking violence has contributed to the murder rate. Due to its geographic location between South American and the United States, up to 42 percent of all cocaine being transported to the US passes through Honduras. The US State Department also states that up to 90 percent of all worldwide cocaine flights pass through the country as well.
Source: Carrie Kahn, “Honduras Claims Unwanted Title Of World’s Murder Capital,” NPR, June 12, 2013.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that organized crime groups and criminals around the world made up to $2.1 Trillion in 2009. Based on that year’s GDP, the amount accounted for 3.6 percent of GDP.
The Havocscope Illicit Trade Value estimates the global black market to be $1.78 Trillion.
Source: Alex Plough, “New tactics needed in the war against dirty money,” Thomas Reuters Foundation, June 13, 2013.
In the Japanese criminal gangs, members cut off their pinkie finger in a ritual called “yubitsume” whenever they have made a serious offense to the gang. Many former Yakuza members have a difficult time finding jobs due to the social stigma surrounding the gang.
A prosthetic expert in Japan creates silicone finger extensions for former Yakuza members. The price for the pinkie extension is $3,000. The expert makes about 20 to 30 fingers for former Yakuza members each year.
Source: Stephen Williams, “Meet Japan’s specialist in helping ex-Yakuza mobsters replace their missing digits,” New York Daily News, June 8, 2013.
The American Chamber in Mexico conducted a survey of 541 companies from US, British and Japanese companies that operate in Mexico in order to determine the rate of extortion by drug trafficking cartels. Out of the 541 companies, 36 percent of companies reported receiving extortion attempts by criminal gangs in 2013. In the previous year, the number of companies reporting extortion threats was 18 percent.
28 percent of the firms surveyed stated that they had hired additional security personnel and consultants. About 4 percent of total costs were related to security costs.
Source: Associated Press, “US chamber study: Drug cartels’ extortion demands on businesses make big jump in Mexico,” Washington Post, May 29, 2013.
In the state of Michoacan, the organized crime group Knights Templar has expanding its reach over its territory and has begun charging people extortion fees.
According to a report by the Associated Press, sawmills owners were being charged nearly $10 (120 Mexican Pesos) for each cubic meter of wood sold. Broken down, the cost of the extortion fee would be around $0.10 for each 2X4 sold.
The Knights Templar also charged avocado farmer $160 (2,000 Pesos) for each hectare of avocado trees.
In both instances listed above, when the owners failed to pay, the Knights Templar set fire to their properties.
The group was also reportedly charging a cattle farmer up to $80 (800 to 1,000 Pesos) in extortion for each head of cattle that was raised in his farm.
The Knights Templar is an off-shoot of the La Familia Drug Cartel.
Source: Associated Press, “Mexico Cartel Dominates, Torches Western State,” NPR, May 22, 2013.
Italian mafia organization ‘Ndrangheta is believed to control up to 80 percent of Europe’s cocaine imports.
Source: Tristan Dessert, “In the footsteps of the ‘Ndrangheta, the most powerful branch of Italian mafia,” Franc 24, May17, 2013.
Teenagers in the Mexican City of Ciuadad Juarez are paid about $85 (1,000 Mexican Pesos) by drug cartels to carry out assassinations and murders on their behalf.
There have also been reports of minors in Mexico being paid up to $1,000 for working two weeks for the cartels.
(See more contract killing prices.)
Source: Ioan Grillo, El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, Bloomsbury Press: New York, 2012, page 165.
A professional hitman working in Colombia was interviewed by journalist Ioan Grillo in his book, El Narco. The contract killer said that he is paid a base salary of $600 a month by an organized crime group. When the assassin is assigned a hit, he is paid between $2,000 to $4,000 to carry out the murder.
The assassin works in a squad where one team is on a bike and another driving in a car. On the bike, there is a drive and the shooter riding behind. The target is stopped by the car braking in front of it, while the bike pulls up next to it to carry out the hit. The shooter then immediately passes the gun to the driver of the car, where it is hidden in a secret compartment.
Source: Ioan Grillo, El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, Bloomsbury Press: New York, 2012, page 158-159.
Organized crime groups working in the European Union earn over $1.9 Billion (€1.5 Billion) a year from payment card fraud within the region. The gang members steal information from credit cards, debit cards and ATM cards.
The Associated Press stated that many of these types of criminals are based in Romania. Due to its history under the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania has a strong history in mathematics and coding, and the organized crime groups have tapped into these skills. The AP further stated that students in Romania are often more advanced in mathematics than other students across the EU.
Source: Associated Press, “World Grapples With Rise In Cyber Crime,” NPR, May 11, 2013.