Central American Gangs and Weapons

By Dialogo
July 01, 2011

Youth violence is a critical concern in Central America, especially the
problem of youth gangs, which are perceived as a main driver of violent crime in the
region. The growth of crime in Honduras is largely attributed to the presence of
gangs who are supporting the illegal entry, stocking, and shipping of weapons for
other illegal armed groups. The director of the Honduras National Criminal
Investigation Division, Marco Tulio Palma Rivera, explained in an interview with the
Honduran newspaper La Tribuna that criminals are constantly seeking
ways to smuggle weapons into the country. “Gangs have become the armed branch of
organized crime, and are being used by the drug cartels,” he said.
Estimates show that the majority of gang members are located within the
Central American Northern Triangle — Honduras, Guatemala and El


Honduras 36.000 112
Guatemala 14.000 434
El Salvador 10.500 4
Nicaragua 4.500 268
Costa Rica 2.660 6
Panamá 1.385 94
Belice 100 2

Total 69.145 920