News briefing – Week of 8 May

  • The government of Guatemala declared a state of emergency in the Ixchiguan and Tajumulco municipalities, at the border of Mexico, which have known a surge in drug-related violence, Guatemala being a transit hub for Mexican and South American drug cartels. Troops will be sent to the two cities to prevent criminal gangs from operating.
  • More than three metric tons of cocaine were seized in Ecuador and 23 individuals were arrested on charges of drug trafficking in a four-day span, highlighting the role of the country in the drug trade in South America. The hauls were apprehended along Ecuador’s Pacific coast and were headed to Europe and to the United States.
  • Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela asserted that Colombia’s peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was a direct cause of the increase in drug production and in drug-related violence in Panama. The controversial statement was not well received by the Colombian government which claimed that the drug problem was a ‘global’ issue by no means directly correlated to the Colombian peace process.
  • According to a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Mexico is ranked second in the list of the countries with the highest number of homicides, right after Syria and outnumbering Iraq and Afghanistan. With a rate of 23.300 homicides registered in 2016, Mexico is amongst one of the most dangerous countries in the world, marked by skyrocketing drug-related violence.