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Guatemala Stops Gang Members Fleeing Exceptional Regimes in Honduras and El Salvador

Two divisions of the Guatemalan Police in conjunction with the Army have been installed in Chiquimula, Guatemala. [Fotografía: Karla Arévalo / VOA]

CHIQUIMULA, GUATEMALA – Guatemala has already detained 89 gang members from El Salvador on different dates in 2022; 45 were from Barrio 18 and 34 from Mara Salvatrucha. In the rest it was not possible to determine the gang.

“Irregular movements by gang members from El Salvador and Honduras are expected, so the borders of Guatemala will be reinforced,” warned the government of Alejandro Giammattei in a statement at the end of 2022, when El Salvador had nine months under exception regime and Honduras announced a partial exception regime. The changes are starting to show.

When crossing the Anguiatú border, between El Salvador and Guatemala, 48 kilometers are enough to find the first of the security checkpoints.

Guatemala has arranged two divisions of the Police to install surveillance around its borders: the Division of Ports, Airports and Border Posts (Dipafront) and the General Subdirectorate for the Analysis of Anti-Narcotics Information (Sgaia). The work is also supported by the National Army.

“We seek to protect citizens who live in border areas and prevent suspected gang members from entering the country, for this reason more than 1,000 troops were deployed to reinforce the territorial limit, said the Minister of the Interior, David Napoleón Barrientos, when Guatemala presented its plan called Inter-institutional Security at the Borders of the Northern Triangle at the end of 2022.

Two divisions of the Guatemalan Police in conjunction with the Army have been installed in Chiquimula, Guatemala. [Fotografía: Karla Arévalo / VOA]

But there is not only one seal installed. Another 48 kilometers further on, near the department of Chiquimula, where the border with Honduras converges, there are other controls.

The Guatemalan authorities seek that the entrances to the country are legal. If the vehicle has Honduran or Salvadoran license plates, they are priority at checkpoints.

Although the officials said they were not authorized to make statements to the media, they did clarify that if a person enters Guatemala without having registered at the border, and also belongs to a gang, they are transferred to the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM) to be expelled from the country and subsequently handed over to the security forces of the nation to which he belongs.

For Guatemala, the exodus of Central American gangs has already become a problem: the government claims to be investigating the settlement of gang members in one of the border departments with El Salvador, Jutiapa.

The regimes of El Salvador and Honduras

The governments of El Salvador and Honduras are convinced that the key to ending gangs is exceptional regimes.

the savior carries 10 months under an exception regime in which it has captured more than 61,300 people accused of belonging to gangs. And the result of this “extraction”, according to the government, has been a drop in homicides whose rate went from 18.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 7.8 in 2022, according to the Ministry of Security.

Honduras ended 2022 with 35.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, according to data officers.

It is the lowest homicide rate that the Central American country has had in the last 16 years, and although it has only been a month since an exception regime was approved In some neighborhoods of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the government attributes the decrease in homicides to the emergency measure.

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