In Guatemala, youth gangs control entire neighborhoods. They are often run from prisons. Now prisoners want to prevent the transfer of leaders with hostage taking.
During a prison mutiny in Guatemala, inmates took ten prison guards hostage. With the revolt, the prisoners apparently wanted to prevent leaders of the youth gang Barrio 18 from being transferred to other prisons, the interior ministry announced on Monday. Around 2,000 police officers had gathered around the maximum security prison “El Infiernito” (German: “Little Hell”) in Escuintla to get the situation under control.
“We will not negotiate,” said Interior Minister Oliverio García Rodas. “Should it be necessary to use force, we will.” In the Central American country, imprisoned gang leaders often continue to monitor their criminal cases from prison. With the transfer to other prisons, the security authorities are trying to cut off the communication channels of the gangs.
In Central America, powerful youth gangs – the so-called maras – control entire neighborhoods and are involved in extortion and drug trafficking. Gang members, often tattooed all over their bodies with gang symbols, are believed to be responsible for most of the violence in the region.