jueves, 9 de enero de 2014

Gang says helped reduce Medellín crime, murders increased in Cali in 2013

The Colombian city of Cali, one of the country's most violent, countered the downward trend in violent crime authorities reported for 2013, while gangs claimed in the city of Medellín that they rather than police had curbed violence there in 2013. In Medellín officials counted 920 murders for 2013, 331 less than in 2012, which reduced the murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants from 52 in 2012 to 38 in 2013, El Tiempo recently reported. The city witnessed 37 days with no murders that year, compared to 13 in 2012, El Colombiano reported on 9 January, citing a deputy-mayor Luis Fernández Vélez Suárez. The daily cited the head of a local NGO, Corporación para el Desarrollo y la Paz, as saying that one of Colombia's main criminal gangs, Los Urabeños, distributed pamphlets in parts of the city last November stating that "in spite of what officials say," the reduction was for the "efforts" made by several gangs to give residents some "peace and quiet." This was apparently a reference to a ceasefire in place since July 2013 between the Urabeños and the rival Oficina de Envigado, activists were cited as saying. Deputy-mayor Fernández said violent crime has steadily declined in Medellín since 1991, and fell sharply in 2012, regardless of any pact. Reported murders increased however in the south-western city of Cali, and officials have asked the local military to extend provisional restrictions on carrying arms, due to end on 31 January 2014. City Ombudsman Andrés Santamaria said the arms ban that began on 13 December was clearly effective as December murders had dropped from 236 in 2012 to 136, the Cali newspaper El País reported on 9 January. It observed that the local garrison, which emits arms permits, was reluctant to extend the ban, going against the trend in Bogotá and Medellín. There were 1962 reported killings in Cali in 2013 - 89 per cent being shooting deaths - 123 more than in 2012, El País reported.

Colombian troops shoot three FARC guerrillas, 16 surrender

Colombian troops shot dead on 9 January three guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and arrested one; all were identified as members of a senior commander's security retinue, the Ministry of Defence and media reported. The guerrillas were killed in the district of Uribe in ongoing operations in the department of Meta south of Bogotá, the Ministry reported, adding that troops confiscated arms, ammunition and cash worth the equivalent of just USD 2,500. The FARC commander in question, a man dubbed Romaña, was apparently not caught or killed; he was identified as a member of the politburo of the FARC's Eastern Block and coordinator of fronts 17, 25 31 and 55 of that Block. On 8 January, 16 purported members of the FARC's Daniel Aldana Mobile Column, including their company commander, surrendered to navy troops in the south-western coastal district of Tumaco, EFE and local media reported. Two were described as minors, likely teenagers, while their chief, a man dubbed El Burro, was reportedly in charge of extorting money from local businesses to finance the FARC. The Defence Ministry said 1,350 guerrillas of the FARC and the smaller National Liberation Army surrendered in 2013, 18 per cent more than had done in 2012, Radio Santa Fe reported on 8 January.

December poll showed most Mexicans live "in fear of crime" in cities

Mexico's national statistical agency INEGI reported on 8 January that its latest security poll indicated that 68 per cent of Mexicans aged over 18 years felt "insecure" in the cities they lived in, while just over 65 per cent had "heard or seen" thefts or muggings in their neighbourhood in the last three months of 2013. The agency was citing its second National Poll on Public Security in Cities (Encuesta Nacional de Seguridad Pública Urbana), with results compiled for December 2013 and compared to the first poll for September 2013. The poll inquired with a sample population of adults living in state capitals or selected cities of over 100,000 residents. The security perception apparently did not change much from September 2013. The December poll showed that 18.5 per cent of respondents believed the crime situation would improve in the following 12 months, 35.9 per cent said they believed it would be "as bad," and 26.1 per cent thought it would be worse. The poll was told by 63.6 per cent of respondents that they had changed their habits regarding taking valuables with them on the street in the previous three months, while 49.3 per cent said they had changed their "walking routines" in their neighbourhood after eight in the evening.

Police hold 13 gang suspects in El Salvador, almost 2,500 killed in 2013

Police in El Salvador detained on the night of 7-8 January 13 suspected members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang suspected alongside 23 other gang members already jailed, of involvement in at least seven murders. The detained were identified as members of a branch of the gang called Cascajera Locos Salvatruchos, operating from a neighbourhood in the district of Santa Tecla outside the capital, San Salvador. They were caught in several parts of the capital and Santa Tecla, while their accomplices were to be charged over the murders in prison, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported on 8 January. Police attribute about 80 per cent of all killings in the country to Mara gangsters who often continue to plan crimes or extort money while jailed. The National Police recently counted 10 killings a day on average in the first five days of 2014, which indicated a rise from the average daily figures the country had attained for most of 2013. The largest number of killings occurred in the districts of Apopa and Mejicanos, both north of the capital San Salvador, El Mundo reported on 6 January. The daily gave 2,491 as the total number of homicides nationwide in 2013 (or 2,492 as cited in a later report).