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From food distribution to extortion, and changes in organized crime in Central America due to the corona virus

The corona virus had global and transversal effects that criminal organizations operating in Mexico and Central America were not spared. The pandemic has forced them to change their uses and customs through measures ranging from pseudo-humanitarian work to the use of Uber to keep the business alive.

The countries of the so-called northern triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – where organized crime activities are concentrated in the region are least affected by the corona virus, the latter being the most punished of the three countries with 510 being confirmed cases and 46 Deaths. Nevertheless, governments opted for an early warning that prompted them to restrict the population, suspend non-essential activities, and close borders.

Guillermo Vázquez, an expert on public security policy, points out in a recent article for the Global Initiative against Organized and Transnational Crime (GI) that these preventive measures “have reconfigured the legal and illegal economies equally”, which has led to this has a strong impact on extortion, one of the main sources of finance for Central American groups.

From food distribution to extortion, and changes in organized crime in Central America due to the corona virus
From food distribution to extortion, and changes in organized crime in Central America due to the corona virus

Vázquez explains that “on the one hand, the gangs or gangs of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have seen their ability to extort money that is limited by the measures to contain the virus”, particularly because of the impossibility of being free from one place to another to move the collection of money and on the other hand said measures “which have led to a collapse in legal trade revenues” which makes payment difficult for those who are still open.

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