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Column 032315 Brewer

Monday, March 23, 2015
Continuing Crime and
Insecurity in Northern
Central America
By Jerry Brewer
A continuing campaign of
unspeakable brutality is morphing
through Central America’s
northern tier of nations, with a
myriad of violent crimes and
The stability of democracies within
the northern triangle, especially El
Salvador, Guatemala and
Honduras, could continue at great
risk. As well, this instability within
the poorly defined borders of the
triangle region continues to pose
significant threats to Mexico, the
southern border of the United
States, and beyond.
This certainly is much more than
what some government officials
refer to as a “disturbing trend.” It
must be an urgent national
security priority.
After all, this area of the Western
Hemisphere is among the most
violent and highly dangerous
regions in the entire world. The
enemies are a diverse mix of
irregular, terrorist-like,
conventional, and organized

criminal capabilities that continue
to be employed asymmetrically
with increase and domination.
What is preventing a sound
methodology or strategy for
effectively disrupting and denying
these local and transnational
organized criminals operating
To impact and boldly mitigate
these threats universally through
this named theater of illicit and
savage criminal movement,
aggressively enforced and unified
national strategies must be
deployed proactively and
strategically for maximum impact
and results.
Some will say that this is precisely
what Mexico did under former
president Felipe Calderon for six
years. Calderon aggressively fought
what was described as a drug war,
with a primary focus on drug cartel
hierarches and drug seizures.
It was a valiant effort. But did the
successes result in sustainable
More importantly, Calderon’s use
of Mexico’s military was a must as
terror was instilled with traditional
terrorist-style modus operandi of
beheadings, bombings (IEDs),
war-like weapons, and the
propaganda by the drug insurgents
routinely murdering scores of
journalists, local and state
government officials, police chiefs,
military and others. These
narcoterrorists boldly ambushed
Mexico’s military at every
opportunity. Police were no match

and poorly trained and organized
to engage paramilitary-like
It may be that the true focus of
Mexico’s long tenured and
perplexing dilemma was its failure
to define the problem as a criminal
insurgency rather than a drug war.
Drugs have been an issue for
decades, moving through Mexico
as a pipeline from South America
to a voracious multi-billion dollars
U.S. illicit drug demand.
President Enrique Peña Nieto
started his term, in contrast to
Calderon, by stating he wanted to
fight crime rather than track down
drug lords.
President Peña Nieto’s
administration found a necessity in
continuing to use the power of the
military and federal police. Last
week, in Jalisco, a gendarmerie
commander said officers were
checking on reports of an attack on
municipal police when they were
ambushed. Five gendarmerie
division officers were killed.
Peña Nieto has learned that the
increasing toll of death and
violence is not simply being
conducted by the so-called drug
As throughout the northern
triangle, murder for hire,
kidnappings/extortion, human/sex
trafficking, robbery and similar
terror inflicted on innocents, as
well as rivals, is a highly lucrative
multi-million dollar business
inflicted by a variety of criminals.

Many people are being killed
simply as victims of violent street
crime, or migrants robbed and
killed and dumped in landfills,
plus the phenomena of femicide.
The rates of femicide differ
depending on the specific country,
“but of the countries with the top
25 highest femicide rates, 50% are
in Latin America,” with the
number one being El Salvador.
According to Rashida Manjoo, who
was appointed to the position of
Special Rapporteur on Violence
against Women for the United
Nations Human Rights Council in
2009, “Many of these young
femicide victims were raped,
tortured, and mutilated. Women in
many Latin American countries are
exposed to a heightened level of
vulnerability due to unsafe
environments, poverty,
narcotraffic, and organized crime.”
How do these regions match up to
world homicide rates? “The
isthmus connecting North and
South America continues to lead
the world in murder rates, with
four of the top five rates in the
world in Honduras, Guatemala, El
Salvador and Belize.”
Latin America continues to lead
the world, with 31 percent of the
world’s murders despite having
approximately 9 percent of the
world’s population. Honduras
remains the deadliest country in
the world. Venezuela now holds
the title of second-deadliest
country in the world, but its
murder rate is almost half of the
rate in Honduras. Belize’s

homicide rate is third; and El
Salvador — previously second in
the world — is now fourth.
There is an estimated minimum
cache of 2 million military
weapons in Central America. These
weapons include AK-47 assault
rifles, M-16s, RPG projectiles,
rocket launchers, hand grenades,
and others.
Governments must apply coherent
and cognitive capabilities and
strategic approaches to properly
understand, assess and meet these
criminal insurgent threats.
The common agenda in these areas
must concentrate on the value of
human life, and on the safety and
security of citizens. The rule of law
must prevail. The fluid movement
of the flexible and adaptable
transnational criminals must be
aggressively confronted and
In the history of traditional
policing, it is hard to fathom that
the need to evolve into
paramilitary strategies and warlike engagement would become as
necessary as it has in Mexico and
Central America.—————————
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal
Justice International Associates, a
global threat mitigation firm
headquartered in northern
Virginia. His website is located at TWITTER:
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