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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 12:23 EDT

Latest Maras Stories

2013-07-30 20:21:24

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Given its population (a little more than 8 million), Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. The nation's coast provides a key cocaine smuggling route linking drug cartels to the United States. This week the CCTV America television magazine program AMERICAS NOW provides a rare, in depth, look at violence in Honduras and the gangs behind it. Correspondent John Holman starts in the hospital emergency room of San Pedro Sula where a...

2006-04-07 19:19:17

By Mica Rosenberg GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala has rehired a battalion of former soldiers to help police combat rising gang violence, raising concern in a country that has struggled to rely less on its once all-powerful army. More than 2,000 ex-soldiers began patrolling in olive uniforms this week alongside the civilian police force set up to take over law enforcement duties from the military after the country's 1960-96 civil war against leftist rebels. They will mostly...

2006-04-04 18:56:58

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (Reuters) - Central American governments could wipe out violent street gangs in two months by treating them like opponents in a war, El Salvador's police chief said on Tuesday. The tattooed street mobs, blamed for a rampage of murders, rapes and robberies and also operating in southern Mexico and in the United States, grew out of Hispanic youth gangs in Los Angeles and have around 100,000 members, police say. "If this were a war and war concepts were...

2006-03-02 21:18:25

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) - Almost 2,000 children and youths, many of them members of violent street gangs, were killed in Honduras in the last four years, a child advocacy group said on Thursday. The number of youth slayings was almost double that recorded in the preceding four years in the poverty-stricken Central American nation, and many bodies showed signs of torture, Casa Alianza said in a report. The group said the bodies of 1,976 youths under the age of 23 were found...

2006-02-06 22:09:06

By Gustavo Palencia TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) - Violent street gangs terrorizing Honduras will talk to the new government about ending years of bloodshed, but first want random arrests of tattooed suspects to end, a mediator said on Monday. Catholic Bishop Romulo Emiliani said both main youth gangs, or 'maras,' also wanted President Manuel Zelaya's guarantee their leaders would be safe after two were killed during failed talks with the Central American nation's last government....

2006-01-05 21:56:57

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) - A gun battle between inmates at a prison in Honduras left 13 prisoners deadon Thursday, the latest lethal incident in the Central American country's notorious penal system, an official said. One person was also wounded by gunfire in the clash at a high-security wing of a national penitentiary 12 miles north of the capital city, national prison chief Jaime Banegas told reporters. The clash, which left corpses littered in a stairwell, a prison cell...

2005-11-27 12:03:30

By Miguel Angel Gutierrez TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) - Hondurans voted for a new president on Sunday choosing between a hard-liner who wants to recall the death penalty to curb gang murders and a liberal who would bolster security to stop the terror trail. Clamping down on tattooed youth gang members known as "maras," who are behind a wave of beheadings, eye gougings, rapes and other violence, is the key election issue in this poor Central American nation. Porfirio Lobo, a...

2005-10-11 07:26:58

By Alistair Bell ESCUINTLA, Guatemala (Reuters) - In Guatemala's Escuintla prison, known by inmates as "The Hole," old metal beds with dirty, sagging mattresses sit in a dormitory with damp running down the walls. And that's the guards' quarters. The prisoners, all members of infamous "mara" youth gangs, languish in conditions more fitting medieval dungeons than a modern nation that has just become a trade partner of the United States. Convicted murderers and rapists sleep up to 40...

2005-10-04 14:49:52

By Charles Aldinger WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will meet defense ministers and security officials of seven Central American nations in Miami next week to discuss improving security in the key region, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. The meeting is the latest sign of Washington's renewed interest in a region long seen as the U.S. "backyard" but which often felt diplomatically neglected by U.S. President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks and Iraq...

2005-08-16 16:31:19

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala wants to build new maximum-security prisons to prevent the kinds of clashes between grenade-tossing gang members that killed at least 33 inmates this week. Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann said he would ask Congress on Tuesday for permission to build the prisons as part of a tough new security law. "We have said for a long time that the penitentiary system has not received the necessary attention and that it is about to collapse," Vielmann told...