Gun Crime Driving Violence In Caribbean, Central America

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 7, 2011: Gun crime is driving violent crime in Central America and the Caribbean, the only region where the evidence points to rising homicide rates which are “near crisis point.”

That’s according to the first Global Study on Homicide by the U.N. Office on Drugs & Crime. The study, released Thursday, shows organized crime, especially drug trafficking, accounted for a quarter of deaths caused by firearms in the Americas. In the Americas, more than 25 per cent of homicides are related to organized crime and the active ties of criminal gangs and in the last five years, homicide rates have increased in five out of eight countries in Central America, with some countries seeing their rate more than double in the same period, the study found.

These trends are largely attributable to fluctuations in cocaine trafficking in Central America, which can lead to criminal conflicts as a result of both increases and decreases in drug flows, with the latter particularly resulting in increased competition between drug trafficking groups, research shows.

“Homicides in the Americas are more than three and a half times as likely to be perpetrated with a firearm than in Europe (74 per cent vs. 21 per cent),” the study states.

Researchers also found that young men, particularly in Central and South America and the Caribbean and Central are at greatest risk of falling victim to intentional homicide.
The study claims that in countries with high murder rates, especially involving firearms, such as in Central America, 2 per cent of males aged 20 will be killed before they reach the age of 31 – a rate several hundred times higher than that in some parts of Asia.

The study also establishes a clear link between crime and development: countries with wide income disparities are four times more likely to be afflicted by violent crime than more equitable societies.

Worldwide, 468,000 homicides occurred in 2010. Some 31 percent of all homicides took place in the Americas, second only to Africa, where the rate was 36 percent.